SPD GUEST EDITOR: January 2015 Archives

Learning to Read Online

Learning to Read Online

LESLIE.jpgBy Jeremy Leslie
magCulture.com

I remember the first time I hooked up a 56bit modem to the phone jack and wondered at the digital type that appeared on my Apple Classic screen. Yes it was amazing, eerie even, seeing content-- newsgroup lists--dropping onto the screen as the modem whined away. But what did this mean for editorial design?

Since then--the early nineties, in case you weren't there--lots has happened but people are still asking the same question. It's only in the last few years that we've begun to get anywhere near an answer (or answers). There were the Flash years--I worked on an exciting but almost unworkable digital magazine for mobile network Orange in the UK that relied on Flash animation--and then the PDF page-turner years. The iPad briefly promised the earth, and though it's established a role for some projects hasn't lived up to the hype.

Just a couple of years ago I remember despairing at the thought content would be consumed on phones. How could we designers possibly create identity within such limited space? But now at last we are seeing progress as screen resolutions improve and mobile reading take off. Responsive web design and web fonts have combined to open the floodgates; long-form writing can be designed to work well on the desktop and tablet and adapt to smaller mobile screens.
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Kickstarter Support

Kickstarter Support

LESLIE.jpgBy Jeremy Leslie
magCulture.com

However ambitious and confident you are about launching your own magazine, the issue of finance remains the hardest subject about which to find definitive answers. But this doesn't seem to dampen people's enthusiasm, they continue to launch small-run independent titles, and online crowdsourcing, in particular Kickstarter, has been a boost to people doing so. So last year I gave it a go.

Blogger Katie Treggiden made a name for herself covering the international design fairs on her Confessions of a Design Geek website. These biannual expositions show off new furniture and product designs from both established and new designers; Treggiden's blog focuses on the new designers. When we met to discuss her hopes of publishing a print magazine we found we had much in common and decided to launch the title--to be called Fiera--as a joint venture. Two bloggers coming together to make a magazine seemed a neat story, and I was intrigued to give Kickstarter a go.

I divide the Kickstarter experience into two distinct parts; the first part was planning the fundraising, a process that mirrored that of planning a magazine. By the time you've devised the editorial strategy you've got the structure for your campaign: what will the mag be about, who will read it, how will you cover particular interests and concerns. You can make the various rewards levels as complex as you wish but we decided to keep it simple, effectively making the fundraising a pre-ordering service--the base level reward was a copy of the magazine.
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Client Magazines

Client Magazines

LESLIE.jpgBy Jeremy Leslie
magCulture.com

Content marketing is the buzz word of our age, a generic term covering many types of publishing project, from small to large across print and digital, that promotes a brand or organisation. I spent the noughties as creative director of the UK's then leading specialist in the form, and saw the industry--then known as custom publishing--grow exponentially. I also saw it slow down and become normalised, the rough edges knocked off and the creative decisions based more on appeasing clients than reaching out to readers.

So it's been cheering to see a new group of publishers recently move into collaborating with clients on magazine projects. Most have proved their credentials by producing their own publications, so adding a client project is a relatively simple extension. And although only one issue old, The Happy Reader is my favourite current example of the form.

I hope most readers will already be aware of Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman, the pair of biannual magazines published in English by Dutch editorial heroes Jop van Bennekom (art direction) and Gert Jonkers (edit). Both magazines have cut through the conservative worlds of men's and women's fashion coverage to create a new editorial language that is a highly contemporary mix of irony and seriousness. They are highly sophisticated editorial vehicles that owe much to the pair's earlier abstract experiments in publishing.
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Digital Discovers Print

Digital Discovers Print

LESLIE.jpgBy Jeremy Leslie
magCulture.com

It's long been argued that print and digital should work alongside one another to get the most out of both forms, but generally this has been read as print adding digital to its existing channels.

Recently though we've seen multiple examples of digital publications and brands launching print publications for the first time. These have ranged from bloggers and web publishers extending their voice into magazines to digital businesses adding a printed publication to their marketing efforts.

The most intriguing example of the former is The Pitchfork Review, launched by the team behind the website Pitchfork. Launched 19 years ago, the site has developed from covering indie rock to a broader palette of music coverage that attracts a huge daily readership. In doing so it has had the similar effect on music magazines as the MP3 had on record sales. Although not the only reason for the decline of the traditional music mag, Pitchfork has surely played its part in their demise.
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The Maturing Independents

The Maturing Independents

LESLIE.jpgBy Jeremy Leslie
magCulture.com

All the magazines I'm featuring this week are from the self-published independent sector, an area of seemingly boundless energy and growth. Such enthusiasm goes a long way but can't cover up the fact that not every indie mag is a winner. As with any endeavour there's a natural balance of success and failure, and as the independent market grows there's the disappointing spectacle of new clich├ęs entering the visual language of editorial design.

But there are always leaders, and if the more established independent magazines like Fantastic Man, 032c and Apartamento have had it all their way for some time, it's great to see newer magazines reaching a higher level of maturity. And The Gourmand epitomises this new standard.

Right from its 2012 launch this London-based food and culture journal sought to reflect its name, gourmand meaning someone who takes great pleasure in food. The magazine celebrates the enjoyment of food and editors-in-chief David Lane and Marina Tweed reflect this in their evident enjoyment of making a beautifully produced magazine.
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This Week: Guest Editor Jeremy Leslie of magCulture

This Week: Guest Editor Jeremy Leslie of magCulture

LESLIE.jpg[A note for the SPD Grids Editors: The is the fifth in our ongoing series of Guest Editors on the Society of Publication Designers website. Jeremy Leslie is a designer, writer and curator. His London-based magCulture studio specializes in editorial design, with recent projects including the launch of design magazine Fiera, the redesign of wine magazine Noble Rot and the design direction of progressive publishing website Aeon. He is also creative director at Luxembourg's Maison Moderne.

His latest book on editorial design
The Modern Magazine was published in 2013, and the magCulture blog is a key source of editorial design opinion and news. He was co-chair of the 2012 SPD Awards, and co-hosted the awards dinner, aka the night Richard Turley dressed as a hotdog. You can follow Jeremy and magCulture on Twitter @magCulture. Many thanks to Jeremy for joining us on the site this week!]

By Jeremy Leslie
magCulture.com

Happy 50th birthday SPD! It's a pleasure to be guest-editing the site this week, I'm looking forward to moving out of the familiar surroundings of the magCulture site and posting in a new environment.

To provide some structure to the week I'll be asking "Where do magazines come from?" This question arises because few if any of the big publishers are launching new magazines at present. Yet we receive several new magazines each week at magCulture.

I've identified five common sources for these new publications and will share one of these each day. There'll be plenty of images, some succinct text and plenty of links for you to discover more. I hope you'll see some things you've not seen before and that you'll end the week as excited and intrigued by the magazines as I am.

Resources:
magCulture.com
magCulture on Twitter: @magculture

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