Eye on Design issue 4
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Founder + director
What is Eye on Design?
Eye on Design was founded in 2014 as an online editorial platform where we publish stories about the world’s most exciting designers, and the issues they care about. This year it’s expanded into a triannual print magazine. Whether it’s online or print, we cover the intersection between graphic design and the wider world, so where graphic design crosses paths with politics, mental health, gender, sexuality, money, and education, to name just a few of the broader topics we explore.
What makes it different to the rest?
For starters, as an independent, non-profit magazine, we aren’t beholden to a conservative or risk-averse publisher, or to an ad-driven business model, which means what we commission and what we write is free from that kind of constraint. This may be somewhat taken for granted in the independent magazine space, but all the members of our editorial team have done time at larger media companies, where we were either forced to meet a daily story quota (sometimes referred to as “content farming”) or to work under strict advertiser oversight. So the kind of freedom we have with Eye on Design is not something we take lightly. One of our primary goals is to use our position to tell riskier stories, to take the time required for in-depth research and reporting, and to take a stance on issues and hold people or organisations accountable. That doesn’t mean we don’t like a bit of fun, though. Any Eye on Design reader will know we also make plenty of room for satire, comics, games, silly quizzes, and other things that make us laugh.
Another thing that sets us apart is our thematic issues. For each issue we invite a special new guest designer to take over the magazine, from cover to cover. We do, of course, keep certain design elements consistent from issue to issue (like our die-cut cover design), but by and large we let the designer run wild with their ideas. It’s always so thrilling to see how they interpret our theme, and how they bring our stories to a whole other level through their editorial layouts and overall vision.
In the past, this means we’ve printed in Dayglo ink, run extra inserts (like a mini satirical magazine), used special paper stocks for various signatures or single-sheet tip-ins, and produced fold-outs and tear-out posters. These aren’t cheap, but they’re well worth the cost.
Who makes Eye on Design?
Eye on Design is published by AIGA, the professional association for design, the oldest and largest nonprofit design organisation in the United States. The Eye on Design team is a lean and nimble gang of six women based in New York City, London, and Berlin. We operate as an autonomous unit under the AIGA umbrella, and are preparing to spin off as a discrete business venture.
Specifically, our team is:
Liz Stinson, managing editor (New York City)
Emily Gosling, senior editor (London)
Meg Miller, senior editor (Berlin)
Madeleine Morley, associate editor + art director (Berlin)
Tala Safié, designer (New York City)
Who reads it?
Our readers range from young up-and-comers and students to design partners and business owners all over the world. What unites them is a sensibility for emerging and experimental design, stories that go beyond quick takes, and an appreciation for the unexpected things we often throw their way.
Why do you work in magazines?
My work has always straddled online and print publishing, and I truly love both. Because magazines offer a kind of rarified space, it means we’re thinking about the way the content lives together in magazine as a whole, the way you might think of a book. It’s not just about how we can make each story, each illustration, each portfolio as good as it can possibly be, it’s also about how each piece relates to what’s on the page before, and the page after. What broader story are we telling with each issue? A magazine is our chance to slow the reader down and hold their attention for a bit longer. What do we want to say? Are we communicating that message as clearly and effectively as we can? Are they learning something? Are they having a good time? Online is great in so many ways, but it can’t replicate this experience.
Aside from the print magazine, what else are you involved in?
Eye on Design also publishes 8-10 new stories online each week, we run a great twice-weekly newsletter, and interact with readers on all the requisite social channels. Something that’s new for us right now is our research arm, which we’re really excited about. It started in the fall of 2018, when we wanted to commission a story on gender equity at design conferences. When we realised how scant the existing data on that was we decided to partner with a research group and do it ourselves.
This year, Eye on Design is also partnering with Google Design and Accurat on the 2019 Design Census, the biggest annual survey of the U.S. design community. Later this year, we’re making moves on the Eye on Design Collective, a one-stop-shop for all creative freelancers who need help or resources as they venture on their own and build up their solo businesses.
What would you change about Eye on Design if you could?
I’d have a really savvy business partner who could make more of the money moves and free me up to a bit more of the fun creative direction (and editing and writing) I love so much.
Where do you see Eye on Design in five years?
In five years Eye on Design has scrapped its publishing efforts and is a #wellness brand with an enviable Instagram feed. No, ummm, in five years Eye on Design will have experimented with the print format, going well outside of our comfort zone; we’ll have done some top-notch research-driven, community-oriented projects with a goal towards enacting real change for the design workforce; and we’ll have done some fun/wild/weird design-led projects apropos of absolutely at all.