terry jones the original i-Con

The icon for our 35th Birthday Issue is i-D’s heart and soul, the voice of experience, irreverence and creativity, Terry Jones. Founder and former editor-in-chief, he is the original.

by Sarah Raphael
05 June 2015, 2:03pm

Terry Jones, light of i-D, fire of i-D, its sin (not so much), its soul (yes, very much). Ask Terry about any picture, project or person he has worked with over the last 35+ years and he will remember the details: the person's name, what they did, how it impressed him. He is the i-D archive, because he was there for all of it, driving the i-D bus (that's his phrase, see below.) Leaving his job as art director at British Vogue in 1977, Terry started i-D in 1980 because he wanted to document the exciting things that were happening on the street. Turned on its side, i-D is a graphic representation of a smile and a wink, but aside from that it, stands for ideas, identity and instant design, the name of Terry's design studio. 35 years on, the bus drives all around the world, led by a team of people who have been inspired by his work and the culture he and Tricia [Mrs. Jones to you, i-D mom to us] created. He is one of the most interesting people you could hope to meet, partly because he is so interested in people, in what they create and how they approach it. Terry has nurtured some of the world's finest photographers, filmmakers, stylists and editors but like all humble teachers, he'd never shout about it or stake claim. 

If you know what's good for you, you'll take in every word.

How did you devise the winky emoticon before ANYONE knew what a computer was, let alone emojis?
I painted the original i-D logo by hand. Based on the typeface Futura Demi Bold and modified to fit into the i-D star logo so the dot of the lower case 'i' could be split into two semi-circles. This was three years before I bought my first computer, an Apple IIe. In 1980, the magazine was intentionally hand made; everything was glued to boards either 100% same size or 50% up. Issue one was printed by a fanzine printer called Better Badges and the i-D badge, along with the first issue landscape cover turned on its side, created the winking face. I loved designing logos, and my favorites are the i-D winking face and the i-D star, which I made about the same time that I designed the PiL logo. i-D should be recognized as the first 'emoticon', at least three years before some claims made in 1983.

Why did you start i-D? What did you feel was missing in the publishing world?
I started i-D with a group of friends I met after producing Not Another Punk Book a year after leaving my job as art director of British Vogue in 1977. Steve Johnston the photographer, Caroline Baker the stylist, and Alex McDowell, who was an artist I met at the Central Saint Martins degree show. Oliviero Toscani and I had talked about the need for a new type of fashion magazine sometime around 1976. We worked together on several projects including Donna magazine and I had hoped to make a street style magazine with publisher and editor Flavio Lucini in 1980. After waiting six months, I realized I would have to publish it myself, and with Tricia's blessing, we got the first issues onto the streets of London in August 1980. As only a few independent newsstands would be persuaded to take copies, we put lots into Kings Road fashion shops, Kensington Market and Camden Lock, plus a few record stores like Rough Trade. Every three months we would return to supply the next issue. With Perry Haines as the third editor and James Palmer, the roving street photographer in his VW camper van, we increased our distribution issue by issue until our partnership with Time Out founder, Tony Elliott, in 1985. Time Out gave i-D the security and business structure to move from underground into global overground. Not forgetting Fiorucci, who supported our adventure in the critical years of 1983-84. After being told in 1980 that "there was no business in street style", every issue for the last 35 years has proved the opposite.

What do you think the bravest thing you can do as a young person is?
The bravest thing you can do as a young person is to say no to the stuff that endangers the health and welfare of other people. Tricia has always been the biggest influence on my life view, and with an editorial responsibility, i-D has always given space to ideas that we wanted to support. Respect, diversity, multi-culture, humor and good health are just some of the recurring themes that have filtered through i-D into the mainstream. There is a huge number of writers, photographers, stylists, art directors, designers and interns, who have all given energy and time to i-D's voice, which grows each day with the world wide web. Digital humanity is the real challenge.

Do you have any regrets?
I feel very privileged to have driven the i-D bus for all those years with many co-drivers, particularly Tricia and our two kids - Kayt and Matt - who shared the ride. No regrets I can think of!

I know you were an early fan of Apple. What was the first computer you bought?
When I bought my first computer, I was art director for the Italian fashion brand, Fiorucci. That was my commercial job and I was asked to design 100 stickers that were produced by Panini. I enrolled Caryn Franklin, Steve Male, and Robin Derrick to work in my Instant Design studio on the top floor of our house in West Hampstead. I was interested to explore 'digital romance' using the computer as a drawing tool with the primitive scans and bit map printouts. Now it's history. I continue to use my iPhone as a digital daydream diary - I still love the blur.

i-D started out documenting youth culture. Do you think it still does that? Or has it grown up?
I started i-D to explore attitude, and youth was a mystery number from 10 to 100. The head-to-toe portrait we call the 'straight up' was inspired by the time I worked with Toscani and Frank Horvat during my early days in the 70s working for Vogue and Vanity Fair. I was more interested in style than fashion for the sake of change. Over the years, i-D evolved and embraced the business of fashion. Tricia and I made good friendships with many designers and fashion stylists. We have been privileged to see many extraordinary fashion presentations and interviewed hundreds of great talents - usually with my camcorder, flip or iPhone, as I had to always see what I was recording. Looking through old footage, it's interesting to see how fashion has evolved. Today's obsession with chasing big Facebook and Instagram numbers means people miss the value of individual, personal taste. Famous for a second is no substitute for a new original with personal style. The value in understanding the touch of fabric, the social relevance of how it has been made; that quality is in the history of the manufacturer's product.

It seems every fashion magazine now is talking about politics and social issues in a way they probably haven't before. Why do you think fashion media is embracing this?
Tricia has always said: 'We can change things, but we need to realize the power we hold in our wallets and the informed choices we can make as consumers.'

What do you think of this age of celebrity fashion?
Celebrity in fashion has always been part of the business. It has increased over the last three decades as global media attention gives so much space to celebrity. Personally, I think it does little to make fashion relevant, but it may help promote fashion business through personality endorsement - if you're a fan.

People are always debating whether the fashion show will dissolve in the digital age because you can just watch it online. What do you think will happen?
Digital online coverage increases the spectator interest as fashion is consumed daily and becomes ephemeral entertainment. Great style has more worth and serious collectors want more than a digital memory.

Do you think you can predict fashion? Is it an industry that behaves predictably?
I was never interested in fashion predictions. My aim with i-D was to change the fashion season dictatorships that were around before i-D and before Punk in the mid 70s.

Louise Wilson once told me that the only bitchy people in fashion are those on the mid-level who are trying to get up higher. Why do you think fashion has this "bitchy" reputation?
Bitchy people in fashion could never be treated seriously by Tricia or myself. It wasn't part of the i-D culture.

Now you live (mostly) in Woodstock, what do you think of Hillary for President?
I've always been about equality and in general, women's brains are better than men's. Tricia is a role model and has become even more politically involved since we 'retired'. There's always been a political conscience with the i-D projects that she edited, for example the i-D SOUL project.

So, what makes a strong cover?
I loved making i-D covers that could be emotionally graphic and often irreverent, where the face caught your attention and the words fed the imagination.

What makes a great photographer?
The best photographers for i-D are able to catch the spirit of the moment.

What makes a great stylist?
Great stylists are team players and make the ideas happen. The list of great stylists is in the history of i-D.

What makes a great editor?
Adrenaline is what great editors learn to manage, and you can always lose a word or two! To be a great editor is to get the best from all the people involved with each issue. To be a leader, encouraging external ideas and focusing the team, together with the art director. Like making a film, I always saw each magazine like a movie.


Text Sarah Raphael
Photography Alasdair McLellan

terry jones
Sarah Raphael
Alasdair McLellan
i-d fashion
the 35th birthday issue