August 6, 2008

Insert Eclipse Pun Here

Print More

A few days ago, I received the email of doom from our resident newsroom god, John C. Schroeder ’74.

“Who is going to make the dummy pages [for the Eclipse supplement]?”

A little piece of me died as I said ‘goodbye’ to my summer and ‘hello’ to redesigning The Sun’s magazine-style weekend supplement, Eclipse. It wasn’t until I sat down at my laptop and opened up Quark 7, our publishing software, that I began to feel a bit of excitement at the task before me. The Eclipse redesign, while daunting, basically gave me carte blanche to indulge my wildest creative fantasies about white space and sans-serif fonts. What more could a graphic designer want?

Judging from my friends’ feedback, many of our readers still don’t quite understand the role of our weekend supplement, Eclipse. Eclipse originated last year as the brainchild of then Managing Editor Rebecca Shoval ’08 and Senior Editor Jessica DiNapoli ’08. Since The Sun only publishes Monday through Friday, Eclipse would fill the publication void over the weekends. Drawing from all sections—News, Sports, and Arts, Eclipse served as a catch-all that provided lighter weekend content in contrast with the hard news reporting of a daily paper.

Design-wise, Eclipse premiered last year under the helm of then Design Editor ZZ Zhuang ‘08. It featured a circular layout that complemented, or eclipsed (ha! I’m so funny!) the standard layout of the Sun. Over the past year, we’ve tweaked the design to accommodate new features such as the horoscopes and photo truks, while leaving the premise behind ZZ’s original design essentially intact.

However, since Eclipse is brand new, it will no doubt undergo several changes over the next few years as future editorial boards start to cement its identity both content and design-wise. The major change that will occur this semester involves shifting Eclipse to a separate, smaller layout with twice as many pages to reflect its identity as a weekend magazine. After staring at the square format for a couple of hours and making a text box here and there, I’ve come up with a few guidelines for redesigning Eclipse:

Reinventing the circle: Eclipse’s circular layout completely changed the look of the Sun for the better. Unfortunately, the rigid circles were also incredibly difficult to alter whenever a design crisis occurred. Call me old school, but I like my rectangular columns! The new Eclipse will retain its circular spirit in smaller parts such as bylines and page numbers.
Minimalism: After perusing magazines to generate some ideas, I noticed that the best designs drew attention to the content, not the design. In order to keep Eclipse looking like a professional publication, we’ll avoid the over the top visual puns and sneak in the circle in more subtle manners. Creative use of white space—large margins, general picture placement will also emphasize the polished magazine look.
Changing covers: Last year, Eclipse usually featured its main story on the front page. However, this year’s Eclipse will feature a color cover with hopefully a fresh, artsy design every week to keep our readers intrigued—much like the Daze cover every Thursday. In conjunction with the changing cover of Eclipse, I would love to see a more dynamic layout occur in Eclipse from week to week. Eclipse will feature two cover stories, each with a two-page layout that gives ample leeway for a designer to create a fresh and attractive design every week.
Sans Serif fonts: What better way to distinguish Eclipse from the serif headlines of our daily paper? I admit my bias toward sans serifs—after all, I would name my daughter Helvetica. I’m currently shopping for a sans-serif font that still retains the finesse and sophistication of a serif. Suggestions?
Orange: This last guideline may seem a little strange, and is definitely subject to change. Last year, one of our editors remarked in passing that the blue layout of our Eclipse centerfold looked a little too much like that pesky Mark Zuckerberg invention, Facebook. I agree—but then, what color should grace Eclipse’s color centerfold? For some reason, I’m drawn towards burnt orange, and not just because I’ve spent the summer around rabid University of Texas football fans. University of Oklahoma fans should speak now, or forever hold your peace.

I will not post images of the new Eclipse online for many reasons. First and foremost, I don’t think my sanity can handle it. Secondly, according to this article, innovative print design is one of the few factors that keep print journalism alive in this digital media age. Maybe this will give you an incentive to pick up an actual copy of Eclipse when we start publishing again in August!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some designing to do.