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Chapter Two:
THE ELEMENTS OF A PAGE
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“Each magazine is a continuum of adherence
to the template and what hits it every week,”
says Arthur Hochstein. “It doesn’t exist in the
perfect world of the designer; it has to exist in
the real world.” This real world, when it comes
to publications, includes the framework of
style sheets, font families, front of book, back
of book, grids, regular columns, mastheads,
specific sections, and more. “Some people
hate structure and want chaos all the time,”
Ina Saltz points out, suggesting these people
would perhaps not make the best publication
designers. “I like some sense of orderly pro-
gression,” she continues. “I need to know that
there’s a cycle that is repetitive and depend-
able, it’s not all up for grabs every single time;
you’re not reinventing the wheel every month.”
For Saltz, as for many publication designers,
structure enhances rather than limits her cre-
ativity. “I think of creativity as flowing water,”
she explains. “For me, if I have a narrow pipe,
it goes faster and further; if it’s a wide pipe, it
just trickles.”
Jandos Rothstein, magazine design director,
educator, and book and blog writer, also sees
the grid as a way to enhance creativity. He
compares publication design to jazz: There are
only so many rhythms in music, but you can
bring in instruments in whatever way you want,
he points out. “What the grid does for you as
a designer is give you the structure in which
you build pages. It helps with the mechanics of
putting it out every month, is a timesaving tool,
gives you something to work against and work
with. Sure, there are magazines that have been
built on no grids, but those magazines had
one designer doing everything, so there was a
continuity and visual vocabulary because it all
came from one person. With a grid, you have
regularity and rhythm, but you still have quite a
bit of freedom.” Nicole Dudka also finds plenty
of room to move within the grid. “One of the
things that I always say is that it’s a canvas,
not a page. Try not to focus too much on the
grid and the structure and the restrictions, but
let the artful part drive your design. Once you
have a good concept, photo, or illustration, you
can let the restrictions and grid fall into place
around it.”
Great magazines usually create an archi-
tecture at the outset—or in redesign—that
provides flexibility. At GOOD magazine, “We
have very consistent sections, but some of
these sections are very freeform,” explains
Casey Caplowe. For example, different artists
create several loosely thematic spreads for
the “Graphic Statement” that comes before
the table of contents in each issue; different
designers are given the opportunity to cre-
ate interpretations and representations of
statistical information in the “Transparency”
section; the “Op Ed” portion features a differ-
ent illustrator each month. “All these sections
are opportunities where we’ve created frame-
works and then invite people to participate and
interpret them each time,” Caplowe says. “We
don’t have a firm, dogmatic idea of what Good
is. It’s an exploration. There’s a foundation
that’s ours, but a lot of the details are other
people’s.”
EMBRACE THE STRUCTURE
ARTHUR HOCHSTEIN
INA SALTZ
JANDOS ROTHSTEIN
NICOLE DUDKA
CASEY CAPLOWE
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IN
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The structure Pentagram partner Luke Hayman
created for the redesign of Time magazine is
flexible enough to accommodate a variety of
editorial content and images so readers have the
comfort of knowing they are in the specific world
of Time, even as they encounter striking artwork,
familiar columnists, and the occasional surprise.
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