If you receive our bi-monthly magazine, you might have noticed that things look a bit different. We just sent the second issue of our redesign to the printers and it should be in your mailbox later this month!
The push for a redesign was prompted by a need to better understand how our communications work in concert: what purpose should our printed magazine serve in relationship to our website, email blasts, marketing fliers, radio ads, billboards, TV spots, blogs, tweets, etc.? As our communication streams become more fragmented, how do we tell the story of the Walker as a whole? We’ve also conducted various surveys of how our members and others use and value the magazine, the types of stories they like to read, and the kind of information that may be missing that they would like to know.
We undertook this project as a collaborative venture with our editors, photographers, and marketing staff to produce a more substantive magazine (so much for the death of print!).
The new design more closely resembles a typical magazine, with a front section that focuses on shorter stories, items of interest, and other Walker news, followed by a more in-depth feature-well, which contains articles and essays written by both Walker staff and guest authors. Information about the variety of Walker programs follows the feature well, with a monthly calendar and visitor information at the rear. We’ve set a consistent page count of 40 for each issue, allowing for more content and images.
CONTENTS AND INSIDE COVER
Each issue begins with a visual table of contents previewing the main stories. We’ve constantly debated whether we need (or someone might use) a table of contents for a publication only 40 pages long. This debate between designers and editors was happily resolved for both as the contents page took on a more visual look. Taking inspiration from our recent salon style hanging of the paintings collection at the Walker, we are able to create a visual tableaux that gives the reader an immediate impression of the variety of programs on offer in the next two months. Opposite, on page 3, is what we call a second or inside cover—a different featured program with a beautiful image accompanied by an extended caption—a little story behind the image. This also solved an internal problem of which program would get front cover treatment when we switched to a bimonthly edition back in 2005—not an easy or democratic task when we have a full schedule of exhibitions, film screenings, and performances to showcase each month.
BITS & PIECES
The newest addition to this redesign is a section we call Bits & Pieces, a reference to the Lawrence Weiner text-based artwork that hangs outside our building (see our Lawrence Weiner piece). This section is composed of shorter stories on various topics related to the Walker: our community partnerships, recent acquisitions of artworks, calls for entries to competitions, special initiatives, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, coined terms and museum lingo, blog excerpts, etc. It’s our opportunity to present the inner workings of an active cultural institution, update members and visitors on recent developments, and highlight people and programs that populate and support it. It’s our corral for bite-sized content that had no place in the old magazine. This section supports our readers desire to know more about the Walker at large and behind the scenes as well as for us to tell the public about interesting new things, whether our new bike rental station or that teens can now get in free to the Walker galleries on any day of the week (except Mondays when we are closed!).
Having a larger page count allows for more developed stories, larger images, and the opportunity for more dramatic layouts. Our resulting design gives images more room, stories more white space, and a distinct look from the rest of the magazine as a whole. Feature stories are complemented by extended captions for images and pull quotes highlighting the artist’s or author’s voice. Editorially, we are experimenting with developing new types of articles, bringing in outside authors, re-purposing content from other Walker publications and initiatives (this month features Art on Call excerpts from From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America), and featuring the artists themselves (last issue, we focused in on a perplexing diagram from Ralph Lemon). We’ve also streamlined some elements of the copy, notably the time/date/price of events, related events, related products, and sponsors/funding for a particular program, which have been placed into an info-bar at the end of each feature, serving as a one-stop resource for more information about particular programs. Designing a spread to act as a feature story that you want to read, yet allowing for the massive amounts of practical event information that we have to get across is perhaps the biggest challenge. It was also a key illustration of the tension of switching models from more of a newsletter like we had before, which is dedicated to promoting individual events to an editorial magazine, which tries to balance story content with event information. We are very enamored with language, the poetic nature of words, which is something we try to highlight through the typographic treatment of the headlines (we are particularly fond of “Earth, Wind, and Fire, or to Overcome the Paradox of Yves Klein, the Molecular Child Who Wrote to Fidel Castro on His Way to Disneyland” !)
Following the feature well are the event listings, which provide information on featured programs and related events. We’ve made the information in this section more easily accessible, both within the context of the magazine as a whole (by placing it consistently in the same place every issue), and on the page itself. On the top of the page, an info box contains the program’s metadata: date, time, location, and ticket pricing. Below is a description or story about the particular event. The grid in this section is flexible enough to feature as many as four listings on a spread, or to accommodate more events with more complex data that require two full pages, like in this month’s Brits spread (pictured above).
The last spread of the magazine features a complete event listing for two months. This listing by day format is a major change from the gridded, month-view design of the previous magazine. In the past we struggled greatly to fit the content of two month’s worth of Walker programming into an ever-diminishing grid of smaller and smaller boxes. However, as a bonus, we added a feature set of 4 programs that are recommended by various Walker staff. Like the staff recommendations at your favorite wine shop, we hope that readers will begin to follow and trust the advice of various Walker staff. (And no, we don’t allow staff from a particular program area to recommend their own programs!)
Typographically, we’ve moved on from Avenir, our de facto house typeface, and are now using Fox, a robust geometric sans developed by former senior designer Chad Kloepfer, paired with Mercury, by Hoefler-Frere Jones.
We’d like to acknowledge everyone that’s made this publication possible: our photographers Cam Wittig and Gene Pittman and our digital imaging expert Greg Beckel; Joe Avery and Laura Nelson at Shapco, our printers; our editors Kathleen McLean, Pamela Johnson, and Julie Caniglia; Chief taskmaster Andrew Blauvelt; publications director Lisa Middag; and Ryan French, our marketing director.
And that’s it for now! It’s a young design, and we’re eager to see how it develops once we have a few more issues under our belt.