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Quick Design History: Fred Woodward #ThrowbackThursday

Fred Woodward is an American graphic designer with an illustrious career in publishing design. Winner of the 2004 AIGA Medal, Woodward is a highly respected designer praised for making major impacts for magazine design. In fact, we included him on our list of 20 Influential Designers You Need to Know.

Woodward became art director of Rolling Stone magazine in 1987, and since 2001 has been design director of GQ magazine.

While David Carson and Neville Brody were playing the designer rock stars, Woodward showed us what could be done with beautiful typography, fantastic photography and good copy.

He made Rolling Stone a benchmark for editorial design in that period—a legacy that remains with the publication to this day.

Woodward worked at a variety of magazines before landing the job as Art Director of Rolling Stone in 1987. His inventive layouts and playfulness with typography had a significant influence on the industry during the 1990s.

This Arnold Schwarzenegger layout is one of his most famous layouts—brilliantly bringing a mood to life with clever use of type and image.


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In 2001, he became Design Director at GQ and just a year later the redesign won the Society of Publication Designers’ Magazine of the Year Award. At GQ he continues to push boundaries and find unique visual solutions.


Fred Woodward is without a doubt my favourite design legend. In the 90s I had moved from the country to go to design school in the city. The explosion of the Seattle sound and indie pop was my soundtrack. At the time it was raw and exciting and like nothing I had ever experienced. 

Music magazines were our bibles. They provided the vehicle for the design experimentation that walked hand in hand with what was happening in the music world. 

Fred Woodward’s Rolling Stone spreads were always the designs that were pinned to my walls for inspiration. And they live on now in GQ magazine.

Want to learn more about Fred Woodward? Read this interview with Memphis Magazine and explore more of his designs on Dave Dye’s Pinterest Board. And if you’re into architecture, check out this tour of his amazing mid century house.

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