Phyllis Johnson, a former editor for Women's Wear Daily and Advertising Age got the idea for a multimedia magazine, designed by artists, that would showcase “culture along with play.” So in the winter of 1965, she published her first issue. “We wanted to get away from the bound magazine format, which is really quite restrictive,” said Johnson.
Each issue had a new designer and editor. “Aspen,” Johnson said, “should be a time capsule of a certain period, point of view, or person.” The subject matter of issue number 1 and issue number 2 stayed close to the magazine's namesake ski spa, with features on Aspen's film and music festivals, skiing, mountain wildlife, and local architecture. Andy Warhol and David Dalton broke that mold with issue number 3, the superb Pop Art issue, devoted to New York art and counterculture scenes. Quentin Fiore designed issue number 4, a McLuhanesque look at our media-made society. The next issue, a double issue number 5+6, was an imaginative, wide-ranging look at conceptual art, minimalist art, and postmodern critical theory. Issue number 6A, a freebie sent to ever-patient subscribers, was a review of the performance art scene centered at New York's Judson Gallery. Next came issue number 7, exploring new voices in British arts and culture. Issue number 8, designed by George Maciunas and edited by Dan Graham, was dominated by artists of the Fluxus group. Issue number 9 plumbed the art and literature of the psychedelic drug movement. The last Aspen, issue number 10, was devoted to Asian art and philosophy.