January 28, 2009

Dazed and Confused: A Design Adventure, Part I

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One Daze More! Another Daze another destiny! This never-ending road to … yeah sorry, I like Broadway…
For several years The Sun has been mixing things up with different weekend magazines. To recap (briefly), 16 years ago, “Red Letter Daze” was introduced as an Arts magazine to provide Cornell with something a bit lighter and more cultured than breaking stories on gorge suicides. Then, two years ago, Senior Editor Jessica D’Napoli ’08 together with then Managing Editor Rebecca Shoval ’08 created “Eclipse” — a new weekend magazine for The Sun.
Today, tightening budgets and a loss of distinction between the two has led to a merger of the magazines, which I had the pleasure of re-designing just before the start of the semester. This blog post is the first of a two-part blow-by-blow of the new issue.


Let’s start with the new logo, pictured above. For a while, the name “Eclipse” was winning favor over “Daze” for the combined magazine, but in the end, “Red Letter Daze” had a 16-year history, which was quite a legacy for one Editorial Board to kill.
Unlike the new age, ultra functional Daze logo previously in use, the new logo sports a very old-fashioned looking font (Birch) with sort of “thin-air” drop caps. The reverse type with red gives the otherwise anorexic typeface a solid feel and adds the “Red” to “Red Letter Daze.” For anyone curious, the color is pure red (100 percent magenta and yellow) with 20 percent black added. The color appears throughout the issue.


Shameless commerce is actually the name of the merchandise section of NPR’s car-talk website, but Daze Editor Leigha Kemmet completely came up with the concept of comparing the ultra expensive with its cheap analog and deciding which wins. The logo is probably the triumph of the issue. I intended it to be a sort of “bleeding” cross between an American Apparel ad and the logo for Brooklyn Industries (my fave store, which you should search for now if you’ve never heard of it!).
I drew the New York Skyline freehand with lines in Quark (and a few ellipses). The buildings are probably out of order/proportion, because I didn’t look at any pictures. Shh! This is also one of the few uses of Helvetica as a header in the entire issue (it appears a lot in smaller forms), which you may remember from the type-off is a font I kind of think is too corporate (hence the type of article it appears with).


The fashion page is probably my personal favorite. The three people in the corner of the page are actually sketched from real photos (just google “fashion” and “mens fashion” on an image search, they’re all among the first results). I piped the pictures into Quark and drew colored polygons on top. This kind of news-designer tracing is my new favorite hobby. Sad, I know.
The new Daze, unlike Eclipse, is all about tight, intricate layout, packed with tiny features everywhere your eye may look. This page exemplifies this concept, with the three small “zippee” features on the bottom of the page. Consitent typography and colors make the page look like a well coordinated outfit! Also, I should note cutting out those ear-muffs and still getting a fuzzy appearance took a LOT of effort.


The feature story is a chance to completely redesign a spread of two pages each week! For a designer, this is kind of an all-you-can-eat buffet. I chose to emphasize typography in a way The Sun really doesn’t try very often. Large, light-weight serifs are free to stretch across acres of whitespace, mingling with other fonts of various weights and colors. If it sounds like I enjoy this stuff, it’s because I do.
The drawing to the page’s right was done by our fabulous leader, Design Editor Carol Zou ’09, but colored in by yours truly, who gained TONS of experience cleaning and coloring artwork back in high school, when we basically didn’t have a photo department. Sad times.


Finally, this is a graphic that ran with the feature story that demonstrates just how many boxes a designer is willing to draw. (Actually, this coming issue beats this record!). No, I did not hand draw all of them. I created one box, copied it and stuck it next door, copied the two into four, four into eight, eight into 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512. And there you have it, thanks to exponential growth, fewer than 20 commands creates hundreds of objects. Amazing.
I still can’t really decide if this graphic is well done or just confusing. Everyone I showed it too initially said, “Wow, that’s overwhelming.” But, 20 seconds later, they would chuckle and say, “COMM is a joke,” so it must get some sort of message across.

Stay tuned for another post coming out this Thursday, with the new issue, detailing the second half of the Daze re-design. We’ll travel to Qatar, giggle senselessly about the raunchy Cornell diaries and probably listen to me complain about “carry pages.” Fun for all is guaranteed.