How do you make a magazine that captures the essence of a museum and theater, two historical estates, acres of glorious gardens and grounds, and a soon-to-be art and nature park? This is the question that has been on the top of my mind lately. It’s challenging, yet fun, to envision a magazine that entices readers to toss it aside half way through and come see for themselves. A magazine that demonstrates our mission and shows donors where their money is going. A magazine that the community sees themselves in and readers oceans away find engaging through online connections.
I sat down with IMA Senior Graphic Designer Matthew Taylor last week in the Design Studio to take a hard look at our current IMA membership magazine (Previews) and talk content and design. A bit of history: The magazine has been around since 1988 with its current name. (Before that, it was called the Quarterly Magazine. A bit of an improvement?) Matt was kind enough to hang out with me for a few minutes after our redesign brainstorming session to answer some questions:
Do you have a design philosophy?
I feel like George Bush in the movie “W.”. You know, when he was asked what he would consider to be his biggest mistake…I’m kidding. As a designer, you can’t help but put something of yourself into every project. But I think the less of yourself you put into it the better. A piece can be clean and beautiful without shouting “Matt Taylor did that.” My philosophy is stay true to the project.
How does the design department at the IMA work?
The environment of the Design Studio is truly collaborative. We have exhibition designers, graphic designers, a lighting designer and a technical designer. It’s a multifaceted team. Everyone has a specialty, but we work together on projects that aren’t necessarily in our own area of expertise. We work with every department in the Museum to make well-designed, cohesive exhibitions.
What are the challenges of designing in a museum setting?
The biggest challenge we face is over-designing. You are working with a museum brand and an exhibition brand. Everything here is an art form and design itself is art. The challenge is to find a balance in your work. Part of my job is to get people to come see an exhibition, but at the same time know when to pull back and not overshadow the art with my design.
What upcoming design project are you most excited about?
Redesigning Previews magazine, of course. I’m excited about incorporating the new IMA brand that we are rolling out now into the magazine. The old magazine doesn’t live up to our new mission of art, nature and design. I would like the new design to be true to that mission and the new brand, as well as be more engaging and exciting than it is currently.
Can you describe the new IMA brand? (above)
The new IMA brand was designed by Indiana native Abbott Miller and his team at Pentagram in New York. We discussed our needs with them and why the old brand wasn’t working. They came up with something conversational, welcoming and inclusive. Using two new typefaces, Taz and Brioni, the brand has the flexibility to say the right thing at the right time. It’s got personality. We’re doing a soft roll-out of the logo to be green, economical and smart.
What’s your favorite magazine?
I.D. (The International Design Magazine)—The design is beautiful. Great layout, typography etc. The magazine as a whole (from design to content) is always fantastic from cover to cover.
And so the conversation continues… With a content strategy that’s mission-consistent, flexible and collaborative and two full boards of design inspiration, we will bring you a new and improved quarterly IMA magazine this winter. Your thoughts and title suggestions will be considered—please add them below!