By Gym Class Magazine
SPIN magazine launched in the 80s, fast becoming a reliable source for intelligent, independent music journalism. But then it lost its way. Twenty years later, there was little to distinguish SPIN from its younger, mainstream competitors… very bad news for a magazine founded on indie, free–thinking principles. Acknowledging the seriousness of the situation, SPIN last year enlisted the help of Brooklyn–based design studio Everything–Type–Company to help with the magazine’s reboot. The new SPIN looked great, for sure… it quickly became a must–have for editorial design groupies. But don’t think the changes were just cosmetic… SPIN had rediscovered its voice and once again promised the no–bullshit point of view it once so proudly championed.
Then the magazine’s new owner announced it was pulling the pin on the print edition, instead concentrating on the title’s popular website.
The full article is in the new issue of Gym Class Magazine No.09. But here’s an excerpt:
Daniel Benneworth-Gray—When redesigning a magazine like this—one that already has a lot that works for it—are you constantly keeping an eye on the baby to make sure it doesn’t get thrown out with the bathwater?
Kyle Blue—I think this was one of the great things about our collaboration with Devin and the rest of his team. We came to the design of the magazine with fresh eyes, without any hesitations or baggage. Sometimes we came into meetings with radical approaches to the design, and I think challenged the folks at SPIN a little. You know, just to see where this thing could go. And SPIN came to the design with a wiser, more pragmatic, more music–entrenched perspective. They knew when something just wasn’t going to work. And they were very wary when the sensibility might be off. That was why we could all feel confident about the new design directions, and not feel like we were letting go of something we might ultimately want to keep. They were cautious of that, but they were also ready to change the magazine and were very open to our interpretations. And we were all very honest in our conversations. It was just an all–around great collaboration.
Daniel Benneworth-Gray—The first thing I normally do with a new magazine is give it a good sniff. You can’t beat the fresh inky gutter of a well–designed magazine. This time I was immediately struck by a different sensation though—SPIN is noisy. Every turn of a page comes with a satisfyingly creasy–crunchy noise, just to remind you you’re reading something made of paper. Deliberate, or happy accident?
Devin Pedzwater—Oh, absolutely deliberate. This thing needed to not just look like a premium product but feel, smell and sound like one, too. With the brand redesign, we looked at every platform and designed specifically to show off the properties of each platform. It’s not unlike what we did with our iPad app. People use the iPad to listen to music and read magazines. So we made SPIN Play simply do those two things really well. With the magazine, we spent a lot of time experimenting with trim sizes, paper stocks, ink treatments and printing styles before we arrived at this solution. It was an important part of making the experience feel more like a book than a magazine.
Ace illustrator Jack Daly helped us out with a couple of h-h-hot portraits for the latest issue of Gym Class Magazine. Check ‘em right out. The top illo is of The New York Times magazines design director Arem Duplessis; the second is of The Times (of London) design editor Jon Hill.
The two design A-listers took part in an email roundtable for the latest issue of Gym Class Magazine. Here are a couple choice cuts:
Arem Duplessis on former The New York Times Magazine creative director Janet Froelich:
“You don’t follow in the footsteps of Janet Froelich, she’s one of a kind and I wouldn’t dare to even attempt that. The only thing I can do is thank her for entrusting me with the product that she helped make legendary.
“Sure, we’ve evolved… but I’m still guided by some of the principles she applied from the beginning. She’s a brilliant woman with remarkable talent. I knew it when I worked under her but I understand it even more now that she’s gone. And she left three–and–a–half years ago. I learned so much from her. I’m quite fortunate to have a talented staff and I think we’re doing a great job at continuing the legacy of the magazine.”
Jon Hill on his management style:
“I expect everyone to follow some basic rules: read and understand the material they’re working with; care about typography; think about how the presentation of the story will translate to our digital editions; and to think about the reader and make life easy for them.
“I take those things for granted in a designer and, in turn, I try to spend as much time as possible creating an environment for them to succeed. That could be practical like making sure they have the right kit all the way up to discussing design with the editor and getting him onside with progressive design ideas. I want the designers to feel supported and that they can do the best work of their career working at The Times.”
We’re super stoked to have Arem, Jon and Jack contribute to the latest issue. Legends, they are!
Gym Class Magazine No.09 is now available as an iPad app, downloadable from the iTunes App Store. Well excitement.
Each day next week we’ll be celebrating the issue’s contributors… writers, illustrators, photographers and––natch––magazine makers. Stay tuned.