Latina: ¡Viva Mexico!

Latina: ¡Viva Mexico!

Florian Bachleda, Creative Director at Latina, shares a look behind their latest issue:
As of late, Mexico's reputation has suffered greatly in the mainstream news media. With the constant reports of drug wars, violence and H1N1, you'd think it was the worst place on Earth. Here at Latina, we decided it was time to use our platform to combat that negativity, so we decided to devote an entire issue to the culture, beauty and people of Mexico, showcasing its many positive contributions (which you'll never hear from Lou Dobbs).

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We wanted to subtly alter our design for this issue, but still get at least two hours of sleep a night, so we replaced our usual section colors with a green and red palette and inserted a flag motif.

The format of Latina includes a white channel on the side of some pages - we use this space to feature quick hits, quotes, and trivia.
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For this issue's white channels, we had painter Paul Corio pay homage to Mexican artist Jose Posada, the originator of the iconic calaveras images that many associate with the Day of The Dead celebrations.
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Our feature well opener introduced the graphic and photo treatments used throughout the package.
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Here are three spreads from the package courtesy of our wonderful design team: Denise See, Grace Martinez, and contributing designer Brant Louck.
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The photographer Benjamin Lowy traveled to Mexico City to document the high-flying acrobats of Monos Urbanos practicing the growing sport of parkour, which now includes many female athletes. Don't try this at home. Or at the office.
For the covers, we worked with designers Rodrigo Corral and Jesse Marinoff Reyes, and they each developed a radically different approach to the subject matter. I met Rodrigo earlier this year when we judged the ADCC competition in Toronto. I was already a fan of his work from his many magazine and book covers (New York magazine's "Reasons to Love New York" and "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" among many others). We talked about opportunities to collaborate, so when the Mexico Issue came around, it was a no-brainer to ask him. Rodrigo used traditional Ballet Folklorico dances as his graphic inspiration.
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In 1992, I worked for Robert Newman at The Village Voice, and Jesse designed a cover for us for the "Rock & Roll Quarterly" supplement. The issue, titled "El Rock", covered the Mexican music scene. For Latina, I wanted to reference that as the graphic inspiration, and let Jesse take it from there. Here he explains it better than I ever could:

The approach was influenced by Mexican boxing and lucha libre (wrestling) posters, a vernacular design style (which once was common in the United States before the era of HBO boxing and the WWF/WWE in pro wrestling--which has since trended towards more obvious and flashy advertising formats). Mexico maintains a flourishing, localized community network for both sports and has thus retained traditional promotional methods, in this case, old-style "posting bills" (not the only style in use). These posters are, in most cases, still produced using 19th century wood type presses (or may be silk-screened), have a wonderful hand-crafted quality, and are generally formatted by their pressmen and conform to their own aesthetic. Likely a stock format, many posters feature a split-fountain colored background (or have the split-fountain inside the large letterforms excluding the background). Not limited to fight posters solely--local concerts and festivals come to mind--this poster style has always appealed to me as a former poster designer both for their quality of in-your-face immediacy and straightforward but idiosyncratic typography. As a fan of vintage technology, I'm romantically inclined to hope that these methods will be retained, especially in a place like Mexico with such a long history of printed graphics (the first printing press in the Americas was established in Mexico City in 1539) and with such rich and varied graphic art currents and traditions.

For the Latina cover, I scanned the alphabets (I selected letterforms that are more than a century old and are in keeping with typestyles still being used in Mexico) and "hand-spaced" the cover lines on screen. To introduce a visual cultural element per the issue's editorial concept, I appropriated pre-Columbian design motifs for the rules and ornamentation (I imagined creating border treatments from rubbings of stone carvings on monuments).  Having the experience of "El Rock" to fall back on was useful in attacking another assignment with multiple cover lines in mostly different letterforms, but ultimately not much less time-consuming. As a final nod to "El Rock" and the lucha libre posters, the split fountain background was emulated--this time in the national colors of Mexico.
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Lucha Libre poster image (above, center) taken by Nick Sherman, a part of his Sensacional! Mexican Street Graphics exhibit at MassArt photostream.

There it is. Please pick up a copy of our special issue and celebrate our southern neighbors' many wonderful contributions. We hope you enjoy.

For a look at more Latina covers, features spreads, feature openers, visit the gallery Robert Newman put together here.

The Latina team is: Editor-in-Chief Mimi Valdés Ryan, Executive Editor Lori Yacovone Hoffman, Entertainment Editor Angie Romero, Director of Photography George Pitts, Design Director Denise See, Photo Editor Jennifer Sargent, Associate Art Director Grace Martinez, Assistant Photo Editor Christie Del Nero, and Creative Director Florian Bachleda.

Hey! You've probably got some NEW WORK to share, and we want to see it! We'll welcome anything that's gone to the printer recently, something you're especially proud of and think might be inspiring to the membership and readers of Grids. We'll note the credits and the publication and shine a little light on the latest and greatest in publication design.

Please reduce your layouts to no larger than 1200 pixels wide and don't forget to include all relevant credits and a little background (if you feel like). Send your submissions to and we'll post them as we get them.

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  • Claibourn Hamilton

    Hi Florian. Great job!

    As a native San Antonion, from Texas, a place enriched in Hispanic culture, the work here truly resonates and reflects all of Mexico's glory, color and vibrancy.

    As always, a big Bravo to you and your staff!


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