Throughout most of my middle school years, my dream job was to become a graphic designer. Although my career aspirations evolved by the time I joined Verde magazine, my penchant for aesthetics remains a vestige of my foregone goal. While I’ve remained loyal to many of the core tenets of elegant design — clean lines, dominant images, a clear flow of text, etc. — I've also branched out to playing around with funky fonts, photo-illustrations and quirky pull-quote styles as creative means to add flavor to a spread. Captivating as a story's text may be, I've found that student readers often overlook those without equally arresting visuals. Directly below are a few of my favorite designs. Scroll down further to view the rest.
The Power of Poetry
Jharna's story was difficult to tell and important to get right. After years of silently struggling with mental health, the teen artist began using the spoken word to share her trials with others who'd gone through similar ordeals. When it came to designing the piece, I wanted to visually highlight her poetry and the vivacity it kindled within her. In the following photo-illustration, I used Photoshop to layer an action shot of Jharna in front of a blooming cloud of color to mirror her internal transformation. Initially, however, the art was so vibrant that it made the white text above difficult to read. Unwilling to compromise style or substance, I used the brush tool in Photoshop to create a semi-transparent, darkened overlay on the impacted areas to improve the text's visibility. A stanza from one of Jharna's poems is also displayed as a prelude to the profile, with key phrases in a pink font that corresponds with the colors in the photo-illustration. Read the full article here .
Nestled in the tenderloin district of San Francisco is 826 Valencia, a whimsical wonderland of a writing center for underprivileged students. I modeled my design based off the center's funky interior design, using similarly vibrant color palettes and quirky accents. On the cover page, I used Photoshop to layer a writing tutor's head in front of the text box to add visual depth. Throughout the 3-page design, color accents (ex. caption boxes and "826") match hues in background images to create a sense of cohesion. The dominant images on pages 2-3 feature subjects looking into the spread, mirroring the flow of text to add unity. I also created an infographic to display quantitative info not mentioned in the article (the nautical theme is a reference to the pirate supply shop that funds the center). Read the story here .
On the Line
Going into production, this profile on community hotline operators had no photos and no color. After a Hail Mary brainstorming session with our lead illustrator, I ultimately figured out a design that would look sleek because of our black-and-white spread, instead of in spite of it. The silhouette in the 'O' of the title uses negative space to jazz up a vogue-esque statement font and create visual interest. Using a variation of the 'O' silhouette with inverted colors on the second page, I was able to create a balanced spread. I tied the two pages together in InDesign using with a background gradient and a telephone wire (courtesy of the line tool) that runs from one silhouette's phone to the other's.
A magazine's cover is like a visual elevator pitch; if it isn't enticing, most people won't keep reading. Crafting covers is therefore one of my most time-consuming design endeavors as an editor-in-chief. Oftentimes the entire class chips in during Verde's initial cover brainstorming sessions. At the end of the day, though, it's up to my co-editors and I to develop the final design concept. Then, we hand the reins over to staff photographers, who bring our sketches to life.
NEXT ISSUE COMING OUT SOON
When my Stanford Rural Action Education Program team returned from conducting fieldwork in China, our first task was to compile three weeks of research into a visual field report. As the only one with prior InDesign experience, I led my group in crafting an aesthetic yet informative brochure synthesizing our research on the porcine tapeworm Taenia solium and its transmission within rural Chinese schools.
Click through the slideshow to view the rest of my print designs. Or, feel free to cruise on auto-slide.