ModMag report: Late afternoon

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Something that’s coming across throughout the talks is that digital technologies, far from being antithetical to print, have opened up access to publishing to a wider audience. Yet at the same time it’s increased the pace at which printed material can be published. The speakers in our final evening section represent different paces of publishing.

15:45: Francesco Franchi, Il Repubblica
Francesco made his name working at IL Magazine, the monthly supplement to the Italian daily newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore. He’s since moved to Rome to become the managing editor of another Italian daily, Il Repubblica, where he specialises in infographics and typography for their weekly supplement Robinson. He presents a strong set of designs for graphs, maps, and page layouts that fit an incredible amount of information onto a single page.

It parallels the much quicker pace he works at, publishing weekly rather than monthly is a serious challenge. At the same time, he’s now dealing with completely different publishing software. While Adobe InDesign might be powerful enough for most magazines, Robinson require highly specialised – and much less flexible – design tools.

16:30: James Hyman, The Hyman Archive
James gives a brief talk on the eponymous magazine archive he’s been building for the past 25 years. Occupying a ‘Spielberg-like’ warehouse, it houses two copies of nearly every magazine published in the UK – it makes it one of the most important physical archives of popular culture. The archive rents out copies of magazines from all sorts of creative industries, from museum and galleries to film and theatre, allowing them to see the original, pre-digital publications. James talks planning to digitise the entire collection, putting these rare printed treasures into the hands of as many people as possible.

Above, you can watch the same video on The Hyman Archive.

16:45: Nicholas Blechman, The New Yorker
Nicholas Blechman was art director of The New York Times Book Review and The New York Times op-ed page before joining The New Yorker as creative director. As such a respected publication, The New Yorker requires particular care for each issue. It’s simply amazing that each issue gets to print given the number of checks and stages it has to go through.

As creative director Nicholas is in charge of art and illustrations, but the new Trump administration has presented The New Yorker illustrators with serious problems, “basically, they’re a bunch of old white guys who are really boring to draw”. He takes us through some of the caricatures, the intimidating Rex Tillerson drawn as some 1940s action man. Pence, as an extremely shallow figure who only says what his paymasters want him to say, is depicted as a cardboard puppet.

Nicholas takes us through the notorious New Yorker style guide. Starting with their dandyish logo, known by the staff as Eustace Tilley, or simply Tilley. He explains their use of typefaces across the magazine. Irvin, the typeface used for the logotype, actually comes from the book Journeys to Bagdad, by Allen lewis. “It’s a drawn typeface, it suits the new yorker which really is about drawing and illustration.”

The fact checkers, speak roughly 5 or 6 languages each. They have almost as much power as the lawyers. “We will not let anything get printed that we cannot actually stand by.” He talks of having to commission a drawing of Chester Arthur being sworn in, “I said it’s great, send it. The fact checker pointed out that at the time of his inauguration the moustaches connect with his sideburns, then another sent one back showing another hairstyle, and another and another.”

He ends his talk by pointing towards digital developments, allowing writers to respond more quickly and collaborate on pieces together. “When you’re used to writing 4,000, 10,000 word articles then 200 words is very strange.” Other plans draw on design elements of Snapchat, increasing the use of animation and video across different devices. But digital feeds back into print too, he talks of finding out how including Trump’s name in a print headline sells more issues, “I’d hate for it to become solely data driven publishing, but it’s useful to know”.

Report by Jacob Charles Wilson; photographs by Owen Richards

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