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First stab at a magazine

Discussion in 'Design Discussion' started by Brad Guire, Nov 11, 2007.

  1. Brad Guire

    Brad Guire Member

    Our beat writer for the College of Southern Idaho was denied a men's/women's basketball season preview tab. His content ran as an eight-day series in the regular section. However, I worked with him to collect it into a format more like a glossy mag rather a newsprint tab. Though I was the sports designer a few years ago, it's the first time I've attempted a magazine. Since I did it in my spare time, I admit that it's rather rushed. There are no ads either. We're looking to take this to a local printer as a way to persuade the powers that be to attempt this next year.

    I'm looking for critiques of the layout, my contribution. Since I didn't write a word of this, I'll leave it up to the other guy if he wants critiques on his prose.

    I appreciate your time in looking through our work.

  2. audreyld

    audreyld Guest

    I'll have a lot more to say later, but my comment for the moment is this: you need to refine your type choics. This is particularly evident in the story about the sophomore named Art.
  3. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I agree about it being typeface happy. I'd simplify that. I have a magazine background and have developed several prototypes, have done a launch and constantly have to develop new limited issue publications. A lot obviously depends on content and audience, but usually a lot goes into the choices when developing a prototype. I understand you don't have the luxury of doing a prototype and this is a one-time only thing getting done on the fly. But if you are going to go with coated paper and make it a magazine, my suggestion is that you REALLY make it a magazine. This has the feel of a newspaper being crammed into mini-magazine format. And my first thought was "why bother?" It's just a newspaper on glossy paper.

    On the cover, I don't know if you are married to the title graphic because of your newspaper's design and a need for consistency, but I'd come up with something stronger and more eye catching and run it the full length of the cover in the more traditional way. You can even silo a players head over the title graphic to give it that magazine feel. I don't know what artwork you have at your disposal, but that photo isn't that strong for a cover. It isn't framed well for cover art. You'd be better off silo-ing something as the focal point, if you don't have good choices, and maybe running smaller photos or something more plain around the action shot of a player silhouetted. Taglines aren't that important because you are not worried about newsstand (so none of the circulation consultant nonsense of lots of numbers), but if you do want to preview what is inside, I'd run the taglines in a more traditional magazine way and not bury them in a box at the bottom. If you silo something or find some cover artwork that is framed better for a cover, you can run the taglines around the picture. They will get more attention.

    For headlines, pick two strong fonts and be consistent. And make the headlines bigger and stronger -- like a magazine, instead of a newspaper.

    I don't love the typeface you used for the first feature, but that is a matter of preference. There are some good san serif typefaces that make really good text fonts. One of my favorites is Akzidenz Grotesk (this might out me, oddly, because I make people use it so much on different publications we have done. The photo on the opening page of the feature (story by Eric Larson) is great. Use a stronger headline above it and add a subhead with your secondary headline font to give it more of a magazine feel. You made good use of the photo and the white text over the uniform is a great opening. There's probably no need to say "continued on page 5, since it is just a turn of a page). Specifying jumps in magazines when it is just a turn of a page may be different than they are for newspapers. The rest of the layout of the feature loses me. It looks like a newspaper layout. I'd lose the two columns and do something more interesting. I can't say exactly what, but you need to experiment. And use some color. Do you have any other artwork? At the very least, take the pull quote and run it higher with the text wrapped around it. That way, you break up those big columns of text and use the pull quote almost as artwork itself.

    I actually have a lot of things I would do if I was designing this to give it more of a magazine feel. It just feels too much like a newspaper being printed on glossy paper. One section, though--pages 8 and 9--is a perfect opportunity to do something way more interesting. I'd use more color and box off each player. The way it is laid out it all just runs into each otherand overwhelms me. Make them more like separate infographics about each player and coach and maybe use different colored boxes (this is where opaque or transparent colors work well). You can really open up that page and give each player and coach his own little section without having to cram it all in if you design it right.

    Pretty much the same criticisms on the women's stuff. There is just so much more you can do with the feature to make it visually interesting, and I'd do something similar to what I am suggesting with the individual player blurbs.

    Sorry if that was overly harsh. I know you design newspapers and not magazines and this was done quickly, so I don't mean to be overly critical. It's a good effort for something done quickly. But I'd say to think out of the box more, though. First narrow down your typeface choices and make them more magazine-like. Be ridiculously consistent in your usage. Then be a bit more creative. Instead of running newspaper columns, come up with more interesting ways to lay out the text and see if there is a way to add sidebars to the pages to break things up, or make more liberal use of artwork and pull quotes to break things up and make the layout feel more like a magazine.

    One last thought... Traditional magazines typically set themselves up as: front of the book (teasers), followed by feature well, followed by back of the book (more in depth teasers and jumps from the feature well). I know you need to divide up men's and women's, but I'd consider moving the two features back and leading with the player blurbs. Just a thought.

    Good luck.
  4. CentralIllinoisan

    CentralIllinoisan Active Member

  5. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I never saw that before! That is awesome... and so me (minus the dress).
  6. Rich Griffis

    Rich Griffis Member

    Sorry Brad, but I'm not seeing anything here that is screaming "This should be a magazine!" There is nothing special about the stories, the art is pretty bland, and, as Ragu pointed out, the layout looks like a straight forward newspaper layout scrunched onto an 8.5x11 page.

    Honestly, unless there is significant advertiser support, I can see why this ran in daily instead of a special section. This is coming from someone who loves special sections and regularly made pitches for new ones. But if you are going to have one, it should be a "special" section.

    I echo all of Ragu's comments. If you want to present this as a magazine, design it as a magazine. Give it some "WOW" factor. Make use of spreads to open the features. Make the headlines pop. Ditch the mascot-behind-the-type treatment. Get a half dozen magazines that you like and see how they present stories, what the covers look like, how they sell the stories inside from the contents page and not just run a list of stories.

    And, if you are serious about pitching this to the powers that be, you have to put some ads in there. Grab some house ads or build some to show what the potential is. No publisher these days is going to approve doing a tab, let alone a glossy magazine, without significant advertising support.
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