Texas Monthly: TJ Tucker's tour of the redesign. Part 1

Texas Monthly: TJ Tucker's tour of the redesign. Part 1
Last fall everyone's favorite regional mag Texas Monthly underwent a total redesign under the creative direction of TJ Tucker and his team. Actually to call TM a regional maybe doing it something of a disservice. As we all know, everything is bigger out West and with a circ. of over 300,000 and a readership of nearly 2.5 million TM is no different. TJ follows in the footsteps of some real heavy hitters, former art directors include DJ Stout, Scott Dadich and legend Fred Woodward so to tweak the look of such a venerable design took balls...Tucker and his team rose to that challenge admirably and it turns out one of his many solutions was in fact to add more balls...to the logo at least!  TJ had so much great work to show (he's seven issues deep into this new look now) that I'm actually splitting this post into 2 parts so check back in tomorrow for more covers, department pages and the feature well...

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What inspired the redesign?

Tucker: I wanted to inject more style into the pages and make the magazine younger, and more feminine, while holding our strong, rugged, western roots.
Texas Monthly has rich design DNA and I felt there was much to learn from it, I wanted to move forward while keeping a keen eye on our heritage. Having said that, I've felt for a very long while, that we weren't conveying all the tones the magazine projects, especially typographically. Texas Monthly's audience is diverse which is reflected in the way we tell stories. We felt we needed type concoctions, and interesting compositional elements to add interest and texture to our pages. We paid particularly close attention to the details in this redesign developing elements such as vertical folios, large areas of white space and we introduced some new fonts. We stressed Empire in an elegant way and used the insanely larger than life Maelstrom to add impact.... 

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I see you tweaked the logo. Subtle but really effective. Logos can be pretty sacred, what inspired the refinement?

Tucker:  We worked with Jim Parkinson on this. I've always loved our original mark from 1973. I wanted the new logo to have more of that same character, the best attributes of the original and current...etc. The changes are subtle. It's stronger and bolder with obvious roots in the original. I love the larger ball terminals. The joke around the office is that we gave the Texas Monthly logo its balls back

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T.M has a great typographic legacy and your redesign continues the tradition with the introduction of Maelstrom and others. Can you give us a run down of what you're using

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Sentinel (Hoefler & Frere -Jones) was originally commissioned for Texas Monthly in 2004. Love it more than ever to this day.  

Verlag and Tungsten are obviously Hoefler typefaces as well. 

Empire (American Type Founders 1937 design) is a typeface I've always loved and one Texas Monthly used a lot in the 70's and 80's. It's arguably the most important addition to our new suite of typefaces. 

Maelstrom (Klim Type Foundry) was actually a logo that Brian Johnson stumbled across online. We'd been talking about a sumo sized retro western, yet modern typeface to add to the mix for section identifiers. I knew what I wanted in my minds eye but kept coming up short in the search. When Brian showed me the Maelstrom logo on Kris Klim's site I knew that was it. To my delight Kris said the logo was from an unfinished typeface he'd been working on for a while. 

Giddyup (Laurie Szujewska, Adobe art director.) Not sure how long it's been around. We started out using it as a joke. We only use it for the tiny TEXASMONTHLY.COM tags in the upper right hand corners of the stock pages. It's a tiny detail but one that adds to the overall character and page experience.

The Fonts in action: the cover roof

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Department Rubrics
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Section Hedders

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Can you walk us through a few sections


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This is a brand new lifestyle section (events, shopping, travel, restaurants and food) that takes its name from the shopping and events page from the very first issue in 1973. 

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Datebook: The section opener features a giant dimensional Maelstrom T composed of images within the section. We always run a handmade and photographed character each month with a new theme.

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Essentials: Variations on one essential element of classic Texas style.

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The Wanderer: Staff writer Jordan Breal wanders the state taking three-day vacations and advises on the best things to do in and around the state.  

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Pat's Pick: A continuation on Patricia Sharpe's long running, and very popular, review of the best new restaurants in Texas.

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Vittles: Another new page featuring a surefire recipe for traditional Texas dishes. 

Check back in tomorrow for part 2 of this close look at TJ Tucker's redesign of Texas Monthly...up next: More sections, covers and a good look at the feature well.

Creative Director: T. J. Tucker
Art Director: Brian Johnson 
Photography Editor: Leslie Baldwin
Deputy Art Director: Andi Beierman
Art Assistant: Nicki Longoria

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