Archive for November 2008

Amazing tilt-shift photography video

November 26, 2008

Looking for an excuse to shoot some products like this.

PC Magazine takes one for the team

November 21, 2008

Magazine Death Pool says that PC Magazine (which I’ve written about here) has died an unfortunate death but will be partially resurrected in a continued web presence – I’m not sure if that means they’re going to put out a magazine on a digital reader or just bulk up the site and update it daily, or both. the reason behind it seems to make sense:

PC Magazine will become a web site only proposition in January 2009, which makes total sense since tech computer and product reviews are the fastest growing, most commonly used areas of the web. Why wait weeks to find out if a Dell computer is slightly faster than one from HP, when you have to buy it now and you don’t want to wait?

So, that’s that. I guess ad sales were low, there was no reason to go on in print. Another one bites the dust. Not very encouraging really.

Some recent layout gubbins…

November 21, 2008

Here’s our cover for TAS from October of this year. I waited until it was off newsstands before writing about it. I think it’s the first typography-driven cover the magazine has produced in its lifetime – at least since it came into its current ownership about…12 years ago I think it was. We had a really positive response from this one, and when I went to the bookstore it really stood out from all the other magazines that are always around it. Of course, if we do it every issue it’ll become gimmicky, but we’re absolutely going to use this approach again in some fashion.


…and this one was the one that we thought all through production “this cover is going to suck!”. We had to shoot these amazingly functional, but very minimalist looking products. They’re basically silver boxes, which is what we deal with almost every issue. The photographer and I talked for a while and decided to just shoot on black, with a really minimal set-up and this rendered light effect and simple, bold type treatment. Luckily for us it turned out to be great – at least from a production pov – and I think it worked well on the newsstands for the time it was on there.


The cover theme continued into the feature layout… I think the page of text/page of pic layout really makes the photography stand out – which is a good thing considering the amount of supplied photography from manufacturers that we have to work with in every issue.



Q&A with John Grimwade, graphics director of Condé Nast Traveler & Portfolio magazines

November 13, 2008

John Grimwade is the information graphics director of both Condé Nast Traveler and Condé Nast Portfolio magazines. With a career spanning over thirty years (which includes contributions to 30 other major magazines, and 8 years as graphics consultant to Popular Science), he is inarguably one of the most influential information graphic designers of the past three decades.

He very kindly took the time to answer a few questions for us. You can see samples of his work at his site, and of course in the pages of Condé Nast Traveler and Portfolio.

Please briefly describe your role and responsibilities as Condé Nast Traveler Graphics Director.
JG: I read stories, go to meetings, and generally look for places where visual explanation could help. Information graphics are (thankfully) considered to be an important part of the editorial process. Once we have an idea, I work on it with editors and designers to come up with a clear plan. Only then do we go on to the artwork stage.

You seem to use a variety of designers to create the information graphics in Condé Nast Traveler, what are the criteria with which you select the right person for a particular job? Are they a mixture of in-house and contract designers?
JG: All the design, and most of our information graphics are done in-house, but we go outside for specialist illustration. We try and match projects to the strengths of the people we have. The advantage of the in-house project is that we can control it very carefully.

How do you determine which information should be displayed graphically?
JG: There is no exact formula. It’s a combination of experience and intuition. I have a pretty good sense of what will work better if we present it visually. But it’s not magic, I learnt it from some superb practitioners.

How do you potentially see your role changing as digital solutions (such as the iPod, Amazon’s Kindle, the Sony Reader … which may not be there yet, but look like they’re trying hard to close the gap) become accepted everyday tools for downloading and viewing magazines, newspapers and other material that is traditionally print?
JG: I’m optimistic on this subject. Digital media will take over at some point (surely we all know that), and I think it will definitely offer more opportunities to display material clearly. The possibilities to layer information, and provide users with tools to control and unfold a graphic, are exciting.

Expanding on the previous question, do you see the information-graphic designer being required to become more of a writer/editor/designer than ever before in order to accommodate changes in technology and the speed with which content can be produced and distributed?
JG: I think so, and that can be a good thing, we’ll have headlines and captions that really compliment the visuals. However, I don’t want graphics to become text-driven. I do believe in the “Show Don‘t Tell” principle.

What other publications, formats and/or designers would you point to as currently being ahead of the game, or pioneering the way information-graphics are used and created?
JG: In magazines, Wired is often brilliant. In data visualization, Ben Fry is a genius.

If you could give a recent graduate who wants to pursue a career similar to yours one piece of advice, what would it be?
JG: Make a commitment to infographics. You can’t be anything less than 100% interested in explaining through visuals. It can be hard work, but it’s worth it.

Family Guy or The Simpsons?
JG: The Simpsons. Even after all these years.

Rolling Stone’s new size

November 12, 2008

Yes, as usual I’m the last person to comment on this. Rolling Stone have gone from their 10 x 12 format to regular, perfect-bound magazine size, in the process re-tooling their existing look to work in the new version. It’s interesting how they tested it… according to the editor’s letter they “produced a version of that edition [the annual summer double issue] in the size and style” of the new one and “mailed it to 3,00 subscribers to get their thoughts. the response was a major surprise: Readers loved it. We realized that the only reason to resist change was nostalgia.” Here it is next to a regular-sized UK Esquire.


Personally I liked the old format, but don’t read RS enough to care much about the change. I think one thing they had going for them before is that they didn’t look too much like Paste and all the other music mags borrowing heavily from their interior layout and font choices due to their unique format. Now, I’d be hard-pressed to tell pick a Paste layout from a RS layout from arms length. With squinty-eyed-blurry-vision of course… I’m not blind, just making a point. I wonder how much of a role cost played in making the change. Would love to know how their production costs changed.

GivingCity issue 2 in progress …pics

November 12, 2008

Just wanted to post a couple of images from a shoot a few days ago… very excited about this next issue. These photos were taken for us by Owen Laracuente, a photographer who I’ve worked with before but not for a while. Digging the deconstructed thing. These look awesome, can’t wait to get this issue together.