Those clever graduate students!

My time with the Simon Fraser University Masters of Publishing students last week went very well. The talk was on magazine design of the 20th century. Note that these students weren’t designers – they would be going into all aspects of the publishing industry, including books, digital media, etc.

I showed slides from recent stuff, such as Wired, Real Simple, and The Walrus and brought in original copies of the Ladies Home Journal (1904), The Spectator (c. 1760), and RayGun (1993). I did talk a bit about the magazine design era in the USA from the 1930s to the 1960s, but I was running out of time so I had to leave out big chunks about Brodovitch & Agha & Pineles. Oh well, at least there’s great books on them!

However, my favourite part (and if you’ve been in any one of my classes, you know that I totally love to do this) was when we created a design brief for a hypothetical magazine. They picked random audiences and random topics out of a hat and, though the results were hilarious, their solutions were bloody brilliant. I was really impressed at their thinking and felt great that they understood my thesis: that designers reinforce the content to the audience. How does that audience need to get the information? The designer doesn’t just pick colors, they do it all, and when they do it right, it seems utterly easy.

Here’s some photos of their ideas – and they had only 20 minutes to do it!

A design brief for a magazine on beer to beavers and one on geology to robots.

A design brief for a magazine on Ecology to Zombies and one on Astrophysics to the Amish.

A design brief for a magazine on pottery to dinosaurs and one for calligraphy to Shiva.

They’re clever, eh? With the price of 1 chicken (for the Amish), a title being a bar code (for robots), a small format (for beaver hands), a combo title (Zombology) and a 3 column grid (for Shiva’s 3 eyes), I think they totally rocked it.