I knew as soon as I started this project that I didn’t want this spread to be a part of a coffee magazine and reflect those colors. I wanted these articles and sidebars to be one section of a greater magazine. I was inspired for create this magazine after I read the articles provided for this project. It only made sense after reading about fair-trade coffee and coffee farmers, that this should be a magazine that is concerned with environmental and social issues. I then came up with the title ECO-Life magazine which is inspired from Life magazine. While Life magazine concerns itself with everyday life, ECO-Life is about environmental concerns and how we can do our part to make a change for such issues. I felt that these readings would fit nicely into a food and drink section of an environmentally concerned magazine. This idea then inspired the color scheme and design that became this magazine spread project.
To start the project, I based all my design around the color scheme that I chose to incorporate in ECO-life magazine. As a lot of the concerns talked about in these articles and sidebars are about worldly issues, I felt that the colors should reflect earthy tones. The tones I chose are green, brown and blue. I picked those colors as they work well together and remind me of the dirt, grass and water that make up this earth. These colors reflect well in conveying the overall message and tone of ECO-life as an environmentally concerned magazine. This color scheme would be used throughout the magazine, but I think it also reflects well on the content I was provided for this project. I wanted to create a color scheme that reflects the work Verve Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee Company and the Oromo Café are doing for fair-trade coffee. While Verve and Blue Bottle are doing work to help coffee farmers in countries around the world, Oromo Café is doing their part right here in Chicago. These are real people doing real work right here in our city and using earthy tones helps to make these articles feel more grounded in these real life examples for readers to relate with.
The second design element that ties into the color scheme and helped shape this magazine spread, was the visual ornamentations. These are what immediately grabs the viewer’s attention in this spread as it is seen in all of the articles and sidebars. The first and most important visual ornamentation are the green and brown boxes which can be seen around the headers, pull quotes and page numbers. These visual ornamentations help control the viewers eye and convey the importance of these pieces of information. Not only the color, but the shape of the visuals helps the elements pop up from the page and stand out amongst all the other text and images that are in this spread. These visual ornamentations also help with allowing the viewer to scan the page without reading anything, they can get a sense of what’s on each page and within the text without going to far in-depth. In addition to the green and brown boxes, I use another visual ornamentation in blue for the sub-headers and sidebars. These ornamentations help to grab the viewer’s attention and convey they are also of importance, but of lesser importance. I do this by only using two corners of the “box” to help the cut-lines stand out against the main text of the articles, but not overpower the headers with a dark color that is fully filled in from corner to corner. Then at the end of each article and sidebar, I added a dingbat to help signal to the read that they have finished an article or sidebar. This helps with breaking up the information for the reader and cuing them to the next thing to read. All together, these textual ornamentations help guide the viewer from top to bottom of the page starting with the headers and ending with the dingbat.
The next element of design that was of great influence was the columns and rows. When I began this project, I originally chose to only use two columns as that was what I was familiar working with up to this point. What I later realized was that there was too much text and information that needed to be shared for me to keep things in only two columns for this spread. I was not going to be able to put all of the text for each article in the spread and still have room for a sidebar. I decided from there to look to the layout of Life magazine for inspiration to help with deciding how many columns and rows I should choose for my design. I ended up choosing three columns and six rows, similar to many of Life’s magazine spreads. This allowed me to break up the text nicely into easily readable columns. Three columns also allowed me to find the best placement for pull quotes and images. I didn’t want the quotes and images to dominate the page, but I also wanted them to be able to stand out amongst the columns of text. Three columns allowed me to put pull quotes and images in between the text to help break things up visually. Then the viewer doesn’t need to read too far into the article before getting a convenient visual break. I think this is important because it keeps the reader’s attention and also doesn’t put too much strain on the reader’s eyes from reading too much text.
The final design element that drove this magazine spread was the images themselves. Reading too much text can be straining on the eyes, so visuals are important in helping to breaking up the text and keep the viewers attention. Most importantly however, images are significant to articles such as these. This magazine is about educating readers on environmental and social issues both in our communities and around the world. In addition to the earthy color theme of this magazine, images help with keeping things grounded for the readers. The images are the physical representations of the people and the work that is being talked in these articles. It is one thing to read about Denk and Corey, but seeing an image of them standing in front of the Oromo Café helps the viewer picture what these two men are trying to accomplish with their work at the café.