When the Japanese decide to do a thing right, they really do it right. The current case in point is the cover art that Satsuko Okamoto produced for the magazine Teen Look in the late 1960s. Her fresh and playful use of color and pattern and symmetry contribute to her notable and distinctive body of work, one that any young graphic designer would do well to imitate.
There is very little information in English out there about Teen Look or Okamoto, which is a shame. I was able to discover that the magazine started in the spring of 1968 because of a brief snippet of text on Google Books I found from a 1969 issue of New Scientist in which they were making fun of the poor English discovered in a Japanese trade magazine at the Frankfurt Book Fair. To be fair, the English is pretty bad. Here’s the text:
“In April, 1968 started the Teen Look, a weekly for girl students of junior and senior high schools, which met with favourable acceptance as the magazine presenting sound dialogue between the adolescent girls delicate in sentiment and the parent….”
Unfortunately, the excerpt ends there.
There are lots of Okamoto’s Teen Look covers on Pinterest, always with the same identifiers: Teen Look, Satsuko Okamoto, 60s cover…. In other words, I don’t have a lot of confidence that some of these covers don’t creep into the 1970s, but I don’t know Japanese.
I did figure out that the nice serif integers to the left of the price in yen (usually 80) signifies the date. You can see the numbers in certain runs progress from 2/11 to 2/18 to 2/25 and so on. Obviously if it was a weekly, the dates would be advancing by 7 days each time.
We’d be grateful for the detective work of any Japanese speakers in the audience—please contribute in comments. Even better, does anyone actually remember reading Teen Look?
Honestly, I’d trade the entire run of Tiger Beat for a single one of these covers.