Hey all, I hope you have been doing well. My last post was a few months back and I apologize for that. It’s been hectic with a new job search, my kids’ activities, the occasional freelance project and just general house duties. With all that going on, I realized that I can’t maintain all the social portals I signed up for trying to stay up-to-date. So I cleaned house and closed a few of them so no more Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and I am rethinking my Facebook page. SoulFul Design, however, will get much more of my attention.
You will notice a refresh of the blog and I will commit to posting new content at least twice a week. So for today, it will be a smattering of recent tidbits that I came across over these few months. So as Captain Picard would say, “Engage.”
People of color are not plentiful in the creative field. One of the ways to change that is to introduce design to students of color in schools that normally wouldn’t have the exposure. Maurice Woods is one designer who is doing something about it. Maurice is a highly recognized graphic designer based out of the San Francisco area who is the founder and executive director of Inneract Project. Their mission is to provide free design education to inner-city youth and their communities, to serve as a facilitator to aspiring career designers and to mentor youth to pursue higher education. The more we can expose our children to the value of design, the more representation we can have for our communities and their visual voice.
Yes, that Bloomberg. Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg of NYC always had a day job even as the mayor. He owns Bloomberg Media and one of his properties is Bloomberg Businessweek. This monthly magazine is celebrated for its edgy and irreverent publication design. It recently appointed Rob Vargas as its new Creative Director. He had been with the magazine as one of its founding members of their creative team but he now carries the official title as the creative head. He worked at the New York Times Magazine, Blender, New York and Details magazines.
APPLE JUST GOT COOLER
Arem Duplessis is a design leader that has led some prestigious teams. His design skills are top-notch with innovative solutions and thought-provoking visual tones. He’s been behind the design scene at Spin and GQ magazines. Apple is a company that epitomizes cool and forward thinking in relation to design. Mix them together and you have a dynamite combo of super coolness. Arem joined Apple’s internal marketing team leaving the Design Director chair at the New York Times Magazine. I, for one, can’t wait to see the fantastic campaigns Arem will integral in shaping. Apple just made itself even cooler.
One of my first jobs in design was working at an adult publisher. To this day, it’s still the best job I had and not for all the crazy nonsense people assume about it. What made it so great was, it was the one place where I had complete creative freedom. The owner and editors had complete faith in what I could do for their pages. The titles I art directed had a mix of pictorials and editorial like travel stories, book reviews and news. They were Playboy-like. The work I did there enabled me to move on to companies like Essence, McGraw-Hill, CMP, Black Enterprise and Nielsen. Quite a few well-known art directors have also worked on adult titles during their careers. Playboy is the granddaddy of them all and for several years, it was showing its age. In the last five years, it has undergone some changes to keep it moving in the 21st century and beyond.
While the magazine commissioned some of today’s prolific illustrators and photographers, the pages were feeling rather dated—especially having read the magazine since my 20’s. Twenty some years later, it still had the same look and tone yet my tastes had grown. I wanted it to grow as I did. Judging from the last three to four recent issues, it seems that Playboy has indeed done that. The art direction has a more contemporary flair about it, mixing more bold typographic treatments with thematically styled photo shoots. They have moved from that “Barbie” formula and focused on presenting their pictorials as real women in real settings, the editorial content more gripping and timely and the culture tidbits are more in line with my current tastes. Continue reading The Bunny Is Finally Evolving
When I worked at Essence Communications, a new partnership was formed to develop a bilingual magazine for Hispanic women called Latina. Being in the right place at the right time, I got to see some of the prototype pages and media kit. It was pretty exciting and the design work was really eye-catching. My fingers were crossed that it would be huge success. The magazine launched and was well received. It was exciting to see because here was a magazine speaking to Hispanic women about their issues and their wants instead of just adopting what was in the mainstream women’s magazine to suit them. I pretty much can say everyone feels good when they see themselves reflected in anything they are reading, watching or hearing in the media.
So it was long overdue for the American marketplace to support and encourage a project like this. As time went on, the design evolved. The layouts were more elegant, the art direction of the photo spreads were more conceptual and smart and the pace was engaging. The art director was Ebelinda Antigua. She developed the art direction and gave it such a classy, high-end fashion feel but coupling it with some fun. I eagerly anticipated the arrival of each new issue at the newsstand every month. Eventually, Ebelinda moved onto new opportunities and landed at Working Mother magazine where she brought here design magic to their pages and brand. Continue reading Latina’s Got Its Sexy Back!
During the ’90s, US magazine was one of the many magazine titles that inspired me as a young art director. US magazine is not the same title that US Weekly is currently. Today it exists as just another gossip rag. No real design, no real photography—just an assembly line of pages. US magazine during the 1990s was a well designed, informative and creative publishing force. The innovative photography and clever typographic pages each month filled me with immense joy and energy that motivated me to strive to its creative level. As each new issue hit the newsstands, I felt so fortunate to be part of the publishing game because of titles like US. I felt even greater pride when I learned that its Art Director was Richard Baker, who happened to be African-American.
Richard Baker art directed US with such innovation, energy and boundless imagination. The way he played with type in his feature spreads worked so harmoniously with the photography and illustration that created such emotional connections between its readers and subjects. His work made the readers understand the personalities of the celebrities featured. He approaches seemed simple in construction but were actually complex in its smart use of connecting the heart of the story with its readers. His work was a staple in the Society of Publication Designers’ annuals. Richard Baker’s work really pushed me in my role as Art Director while working on a business title owned by Essence Communications. With his fantastic magazine work, adding the fact that Richard Baker happened to be African-American really lifted my spirit as I’d come across so few magazine designers that look like me. Eventually, he moved on from US magazine and went to Premiere, another one of my favorite titles during the ‘90s.
Richard Baker brought that same creative innovation to Premiere and really elevated the title to new heights where I still saw his pages in the SPD annuals. I lost track of him after he moved on from Premiere but I remember he was at LIFE magazine the last time they resurrected the iconic title. Today, I don’t know where he has landed but wherever it is I know he is on to a new level of creative innovation. Personally, I would just like to let him know how much his work has inspired me over my career and that he really helped me discover my passion for magazine design.
Thank you, Richard Baker.
I heard through the grapevine a few months back that Ebony was undergoing a major redesign. “Fantastic,” I thought to myself. It was long overdue and embarrassing what Ebony had become visually in the last two decades. Growing up, I remembered the huge tabloid issues of Ebony looking like the black LIFE. The beautiful images, the grandiose features and the gallery styled covers all made me want to work for a magazine one day. That dream came true for me but as time went by, many black magazines just didn’t invest in their design structure like their mainstream counterparts.
All I could do after seeing last month’s issue was shake my head. Looking like a broke-ass version of Essence (believe me Essence needs a refresh too), it kept using Helvetica in such uninspired arrangements. HELLO! There are other sans serifs beside Helvetica! Hundreds! The same went for the photos, except for the celebs, and the lackluster illustrations. There was a whole laundry list. Continue reading Ebony Finally Found Some Design Legs