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Recent happenings


BMW Motorcycle Magazine, Summer 2016

May 13, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /   , ,  

BMWMM31-IllustrationIf you're a subscriber, you should be receiving the Summer 2016 BMW Motorcycle Magazine in the mail shortly. Otherwise, you should head out to your local newsstand and pick up a copy in order to see a true rolling work of art. Revival Cycles based their custom Landspeeder "sculpture" (see pages layouts above) on Ernst Henne's supercharged 1928 BMW R37. Using that motorcycles and others, Henne set 76 land speed records though the 1930s — his last speed record stood for 14 years.

Beyond the usual design and layout, I also enjoyed using my art and cartoon talents to illustrate Fred Rau's "Riding Sickness?" editorial (see right). It's great to spend some time away from the keyboard to sketch and add a little humor to an otherwise "gray" page.


Our Favorite Typefaces of 2015

May 13, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /    

Stephen Coles, Editor at Typographica:

Who decides what meets that standard? No single writer. No editorial board. No consensus by committee. No superstar-studded jury (though there are some luminaries in this bunch). Those formats all have value. But what makes this list different — and maybe a little weird but, to me, always insightful — is that each contributor makes their own pick.

What's nice about a list like this is the variety (and the unusual picks) that wouldn't be selected through consensus. It's not just a top ten of the latest trends.

Scrabble Typography 3rd Edition

May 13, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /    

Winning Solutions website:

This deluxe SCRABBLE game set combines the beauty of typography with America’s favorite word game to create a truly special gaming experience. Andrew Capener has selected 12 exquisite new fonts for the letters to be featured on the solid wood Scrabble tiles. Andrew has also designed a completely new gameboard for this fabulous new third edition of Scrabble Typography.

The new fonts don't change the gameplay, but for typography nerds who also enjoy SCRABBLE, this is the set for you.

As Digital Fatigue Sets In, Readers are Waking Up to Newspapers

May 4, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /    

Nu Yang writing for Editor & Publisher:

Davis suggested that print products shouldn’t contribute to the surplus of information brought on by their digital counterparts. Instead, they should create content consumers want to consume—and that’s where quality over quantity comes in.

As I've told my clients, people buy magazines for the curated experience. Unlike websites which publish everything they can as quickly as possible, print publication editors can cut through the noise to find the important information and then present it efficiently and pleasantly to the reader.

Hardcover book featuring 40 years of iconic Atari video game packaging design

April 28, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /    

ArtofAtariCover"The Art of Atari" is the first official collection of such artwork. Sourced from private collections worldwide, this book spans over 40 years of the company’s unique illustrations used in packaging, advertisements, catalogs, and more.

Includes a comprehensive retrospective collecting game production and concept artwork, photos, marketing art, with insight from key people involved in Atari’s rich history, and behind-the-scenes details on how dozens of games featured within were conceived, illustrated, approved (or rejected), and brought to life!

Looking at the artwork as an adult I'm fascinated by the detail and time spent on something that I, as child, barely noticed.

Indie magonomics

April 13, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

Kai Brach gives us his own, personal approach to publishing a small independent magazine:

Over the last few years I’ve given numerous talks about what indie publishing means to me. This post is a collection of lessons I’ve learned about the business side of making Offscreen.

It’s worth noting that Offscreen is largely a one-man show. Therefore, my process probably looks different to that of most of my publishing colleagues. I’m sure people with a long career in traditional print publishing that are part of a bigger team have a much different approach.

After 30 years in publication design, it's still always fascinating to read someone's personal perspective. And that's because no two people put together a magazine the same way. What's important is what will work best for you and your audience.

How to Use Way Too Many Typefaces in Your Design

April 13, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /    

Khoi Vinh comments on Bethany Heck's The Value of Multi-Typeface Design:

This approach is antithetical to almost everything that I believe about how good typography is crafted, and Heck’s results are strike me as nearly alien to my own aesthetic. I would be loathe to advise any young designer to follow her lead.

And yet, the article is a wonderfully reasoned counter-argument to rarely questioned typographic dogma, a refreshing inversion of the “rules” to which designers can cling with too few questions. There’s also no denying that Heck’s results are wonderful, gorgeous even. With each typeface she uses, her designs become elaborate systems, almost like orchestras of typographic instruments. I’m humbled just poring over her work samples.

The brain's take on magazine advertising — why does it work?

April 12, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

Heather Andrew at mediatel newsline:

A significantly higher level of activity was seen in most brain regions when looking at the advertising campaigns within the Heat [brand] context, compared to multimedia campaigns across mixed media brands. What our research uncovered was the beneficial effect of consistent branding in creating a 'brainstate' that was uniform across platforms, and this effect was driven by the overwhelming strength of the magazine brand. […]

If a piece of advertising is a good fit with the context in which it is being seen, its impact is all the greater. So a fashion ad in a fashion magazine is likely to attract more attention than the same fashion ad in, say, a national newspaper, even when it's seen by the same person. […]

Part of the brain called the Orbital Frontal Cortex protects us from being over-susceptible to what we see and hear, and this tends to put up a metaphorical 'shutter' in response to a hard sell. This can effectively block over-intrusive advertising, however, it is likely to benefit magazines which are (generally) not perceived as a 'shouty' medium.

In magazines, is bigger really better?

April 6, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

Kate Abnett writing for Business of Fashion:

Among fashion and lifestyle magazines, the growing consensus seems to be that bigger is better. […]

“Advertisers saw the eyeballs going towards digital and their budgets weren’t going up, so if they were going to follow [readers] to digital, the money had to come from somewhere,” said Beth Egan, associate professor of advertising at Syracuse University, on shrinking print spend. Bigger trims, she added, are also “an interesting way to add content without adding pages,” which can quickly increase the cost of printing and mailing a magazine.

This comment obviously ignores the cost of the larger paper itself and the added weight and therefore postage necessary to mail a magazine even if page count stays the same.

“More than ever, everyone wants to stand out,” said Stefano Tonchi, editor-in-chief of W magazine. “The future of print is in premium content with a collectible quality.” According to Tonchi, W’s oversized format “serves as a luxurious environment for our bold and immersive imagery.”

Standing out in a crowded field — even more crowded if you included digital content delivery sources — is the real benefit here. But you also need to have the content to support it.

Indeed, while many in publishing seem to believe that a larger trim size will help to attract readers and boost advertising, a number of titles have taken the opposite approach, scaling down their books.

In 2013, InStyle whittled down its trim size, decreasing its width by 3/8 inches to 8 inches by 10 7/8 inches (the same as Vogue). […] In contrast to the titles adopting the look of coffee table tomes, Foxman believes InStyle delivers convenience for readers on the go. Most women “are not all that interested in carrying around something oversize.”

If we're talking bigger to stand out, then 3/8 of an inch isn't going to make a difference one way or the other.

A magazine's trim size is an important topic but this article is missing the real world considerations. And the first consideration is your publication's content and audience which is what InStyle is really pointing out here. If you're publication is full of great, curated editorial content, then a "standard" magazine size is perfect for your readership. If you're selling a premium magazine with beautiful photography/design, then more space on the page would be a benefit. And the larger trim size will help you stand out, literally, on the newsstand rack.

There are other considerations though. Are those standard magazine newsstand racks going to fit your new size or are you going to be stocked elsewhere that gets fewer eyeballs? Are your advertisers already creating ads for this page size or will they have to, and are they willing to, create unique advertising just for you? Is your printer set up with presses and paper to efficiently produce this new trim size or are you going to pay for paper and capacity which is being wasted on press? And, are your readers going to appreciate the expanded page layouts or would they prefer something easier to carry around and archive?

Popshot magazine brings their cover to life

April 5, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /   , ,  

Illustrator Thomas Danthony and animator Christopher van Wilson teamed up to bring the cover of Popshot magazine to life. The animated illustration can be seen on YouTube. While it's interesting on YouTube, such effects are attractive and engaging in publication's digital editions. Not just for cover art, but it's something advertisers should think about as well. / 855-MORR ART / 303-432-2922
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