The Society of Publication Designers recently did a feature on the art direction for the Riverfront Times, an alternative weekly available in the St. Louis area. In this piece they celebrate the work of senior art director, Tom Carlson.

In short, they say, “He does a lot of smart, cool work.”

Carlson’s best covers at Riverfront Times are complete self-creations, made with stock imagery and Carlson’s own technical skills. What photography he uses on the cover is generally by former staff photographer Jennifer Silverberg, and is made-to-order to Carlson’s creative direction. “My cover philosophy is object-oriented. I like to go for visual solutions with clarity and directness that render text all but unnecessary. I tend to avoid decorative type choices and use type that just is, and let the words (when we have them) do their job.”

See for yourself and I think you’ll agree, Tom does a lot of smart, cool work.

The article continues to offer a reason as to why Tom is able to be so crafty with his art and design.

As free papers, these weeklies are removed from the restrictions of newsstand sales and subscription renewals. With improved printing and reproduction capabilities (although their art directors would probably disagree about the quality), these papers have been able to get much more sophisticated in their cover designs, now oftentimes rivaling and surpassing other, slicker publications in their regions.
Wow, if that’s the case then the Riverfront Times must love the web. I mean, if they can produce work of that caliber because they are free from the restrictions of sales and subscriptions, imagine what they can do without the shackles of printing and distribution. At a place that obviously celebrates really great design their website must glow like a thousand angels! And with Tom at the helm maybe a newspaper has finally awoken from their Adobe GoLive ’99 slumber.

Oh look, as it turns out the Riverfront Times is just another newspaper that is living in the past and waiting for that Internet thing to go away and to stop bothering them. Pity.