Project: Magazine redesign (proposed), for Oregon Humanities

Oregon Humanities
Magazine redesign (proposed)

A proposed redesign for a journal of letters

Oregon Humanities is a very useful organization: a regional non-profit committed to helping people improve their lives through education and application of the humanities; in short, by the practice of critical thinking. The group also publishes a very interesting quarterly magazine, which they asked us to take a look at redesigning.

The organization thought of Oregon Humanities in terms of an alumni magazine, printed on coated paper with a 4-color cover. That was all well and good, but we felt their content was good enough to push the publication more along the lines of the excellent British literary quarterly Drawbridge. To our thinking, if Oregon Humanities was about ideas, then the more ideas you could get into an issue, the better. We recommended cutting the production budget (by printing via cold web on cheaper paper and at a size trimmed back to lower their postage) and use the resulting savings to finance more good content.

The result, shown below, was younger, grittier, more lively. It was also too big a change for them and didn’t sell through.


Front cover (wrap)

The Kraft wrap was intended to protect the magazine’s interior during mailing, but also contained custodial and introductory material: here, the table of contents. Contributors were named up front, inline with brief summaries of their contributions, to tie the humanities to humans.



Front cover

Visually, the magazine extends earlier brand work done by Jelly Helm. The large red “O.Hm” on the wrap above is one of several logotypes prepared by his office for the organization, and wraps around to the back. In our previous redesign of the Oregon Humanities website, we had complemented Mr. Helm’s campaign language with what we termed a “literary voice,” which we carried over to the magazine’s interior.

Here, the editor’s introduction (at left) would introduce the issue’s theme at the earliest point. The protected part of the wrap did a full day’s work; there would be no waste.



Interior pages: departmental

Opening pages for department describing the organization’s work in the world. As mentioned earlier, typography would resonate with the work we had done on their website. As befitting a periodical with a scholarly bent, the emphasis is on the text: pages are designed around a very comfortable reading measure with one narrow leftover column, which could also be used for text, as shown at left …



Interior pages: departmental

… or supporting stuff, as shown in these interstitial pages. Departments like this one typically started with one anchor story and consisted of several, shorter stories. We moved headline blocks into the left column to conserve space.



Interior pages: transitional

Pages showing transition between departments; here, Field Work hands off to a section of short essays and book reviews.



Interior pages: editorial

We wanted to slightly subvert the form of the literary magazine. Serving the reader was out first priority, and while we included every single ruffle and flourish the form requires (inline author bios, a ceremonial masthead (see below), etc.) we deployed them in logical but non-traditional ways. Here, the opening paragraphs of the essay are set larger, to draw the reader in more quickly; the author’s bio is set alongside the essay rather than at its end, and so on. The magazine is perhaps a little strange to those used to the form, but politely so.



Back cover (wrap)

The large logotype wraps around from the front cover; masthead information – usually reserved for the interior – lives here, as well as a pithy extract from an essay, leaving room for the mailing imprint up top.

Creative directors
Adam McIsaac
Eric Hillerns
Adam McIsaac
Jaime Barrett