You might have remembered the THIS post a few months ago announcing the launch Jasmine Star’s magazine Exposed. It was a really great accomplishment for not only her but for the whole team that was involved. Check out some of my favorite spreads from the magazine HERE. And congrats to Jasmine for Selling out of Exposed! WOHOO!!
On a personal level, this project was a milestone. I LOVE projects that inspire me, scare me, and stretch me. Even though they may be cause of some heartache and nervous tension they make me better, more experienced, and more confident in the end. Through this process there were some moments where I had NO clue what I was doing, but I was determined to research and figure out how to do the best I could.
That being said… I thought I would shed some light on some of the design details and thought processes behind the creation of Exposed Magazine.
THE BEGINNING STAGES
When Jasmine and I got together In the beginning stages it was just a word doc. Literally. All we knew was that her story was going to be in a magazine type of format, but we had no idea what it would really look like because we had never seen anything like this before. So deciding how to go about it was interesting… Cover photo? Of what? A featured center spread? What kind of images? Portfolio or images that describe the articles? Is that too cheesy? Who’s the photographer? Is it printed or online? Or both? We discussed some options and after Jasmine decided how she wanted to move forward the magazine started to take shape.
After I printed out the word doc I was officially overwhelmed. It was over 60 pages in 10pt font. That feeling of “where do I start?” hit me hard core. When I understood the magnitude of this project I called my production designer Liz to jump on board with me. Together we could tackle anything. and with her overly-positive spirit… I believed it. Haha.
In the mean time I buried myself in Jasmine’s favorite magazines. I studied the layouts, the title treatments, and asked myself on occasion WHY I thought they did certain things. I wanted to think like their designers. This really helped me learn how to make decisions regarding the ebb and flow of Exposed.
Just like songs have a verse, chorus, and bridge that climax and then resolve, I wanted the magazine to mimic that flow. Having areas to visually build with interest as the stories progressed and then counteract that with space to breathe and read easy. The magazine needed to be presented in a way that was not overwhelming, yet it needed to remain interesting. Because there was so much text (and magazines don’t typically have very much text) I knew I had a challenge to overcome. But I was ready for it.
I needed to see the big picture. So I laid out the doc on my hard wood floors and wrote notes of what I envisioned as I reread the book. Some of the articles were more visual than others so some of the notes included where I thought images should be and what I thought they should be of.
THE INDESIGN FILE
Instead of just designing from front to back I needed to keep the big picture in mind. Because if we didn’t….we would’ve just started designing and ended up with a 500 page magazine that needed to be redone because it was WAAY too long. So Liz and I started by FIRST getting the entire book into the Indesign doc. FIRST ACCOMPLISHMENT. haha! WOOHOO!! We added lots of blank pages into the mix as well as place holders, etc. This gave us a great gauge for how long we thought the magazine would be and what we would have room for, etc. We then added titles, some light style, and sent it on over to Jasmine for her initial feedback.
I never really know what to expect with Jasmine’s feedback. In a good way. And with this project being WAAYY out of the norm it left me sitting on the edge of my seat. Before this moment, everything was just an idea or a thought…and now… it had come to life and was on the table to dissect, analyze, and revise.
I always love working with her, and not because it’s easy and she loves everything I do. Haha. That’s not the case at all, and I love it. We talk about it. I probe with questions about why she loves this and hates that. I ask her a series of questions, and It helps me to understand how she thinks. It’s VERY important for me to spend the time to understand how she thinks so I can make educated decisions in the future and not take stabs in the dark or play guessing games. NEVER PLAY THE GUESSING GAME. It causes confusion, frustration, and ends up wasting everybody’s time.
ALL of this is worth it because in the end we get to a place where we are BOTH proud of what we’ve created. It’s a true collaboration.
THE REVISIONS & THE TEST PRINTS
We did a round of revisions and then I took the Indesign file for a black and white test print. Things look SOO different when printed. In this round I was looking at the size ratio of elements, spacing between EVERYTHING, the use negative space (or lack of), typography, image placement, etc. I was looking at how everything fit together. I stapled the book together and analyzed the spacial flow of the magazine. I marked everything I wanted to change with yellow highlighter. I wrote notes in the margins and did a FULL edit with the physical copy. I did another round of revisions, and did yet another test printed in black and white. Again, I stapled it together to see if my revisions accomplished what they needed to. I revised and printed, revised and printed, until I was happy.
I chose to design the cover last. I wanted to finish the inside first, giving me weeks to really get to know the style like the back of my hand. I then felt REALLY comfortable and confident designing a memorable cover that was going to be the face of this story. All in all I knew that designing it last would make it stronger and more consistent with the inside.
THE FINAL STAGES
As we were days aways from going to print I did a few more test prints. Believe it or not, this included two in color. I put together a mock magazine including the cover to see how everything lined up. I flipped though the pages with new eyes. I looked at the colors of the images and analyzed the way they worked together.
I got really excited in this moment because everything was starting to REALLY come to life in a big way. I was so nervous to hit the send button. I held my breath, said a few prayers, and had a stomach ache for weeks HOPING everything lined up right, printed pretty, and represented all our hard work.
On a large project like this, I keep everything. The whole process. I kept the printed word doc, the research, all of the test prints, the written edits, the print discs, everything, and I packaged it up and put it to bed.
Jasmine-Thank you for believing in me, partnering with me, and pushing me to be better! I love working with you!!
Liz- Thank you for being my fun, talented, and witty right-hand girl! I could not have done it without you!
Jasmine’s team on Exposed – You guys are legit! The real deal. Thanks for everything.