Thursday, May 14, 2009

Calling Your Assistance: Cover Designs for POSTMEDIEVAL

by EILEEN JOY

Gentle readers of In The Middle, we are in a muddle over the possible cover design for postmedieval: a journal of cultural studies, the launch of which [in 2010] we recently shared with you. Many are the possible designs we have received and few [um, two] are the ones we have liked so far. Neither of these necessarily represent what the final cover will look like [and aspects of it will always change with each volume: the photograph, for example, will change either with each issue or each volume, but the other design elements would likely stay the same, perhaps the colors would change, you see how this goes?], but these two designs are good starting points, and now we want to know: what do YOU think? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

35 comments:

Myra Seaman said...

I urge you to let us know what you think--and why!-- so I don't have to have a fight with Eileen about it.

Janice said...

My interest is piqued by the second design with the large part of the cover devoted to the photograph and the crisp strip for the title across the upper section.

Matthew Gabriele said...

the blue one. you can see more of the picture, with the juxtaposition of the cathedral and skyscrapers.

odd thought though: would anyone actually think that they're incongruous?

Another Damned Medievalist said...

I LOVE the blue one, HATE the pink one. Although I might like it in green. But really, I think the picture on the one makes the point.

Steve Muhlberger said...

The pink one shouts "1978." Not keen on the other.

Liza Blake said...

definitely the second design, even if the photo (which is fantastic) changes -- the PM reminds me too much of PMLA, and you guys are way cooler than that.

dtkline said...

Me likey the second design - blue with pic. Keep the structure and change the color and the pic with each yearly volume?

Myra Seaman said...

From those of you who are speaking in favor of the one with the large photo, I would love to hear what about that layout seems to you to convey the attitude and aims of _postmedieval_. I don't see how this design wouldn't, say, suit _Speculum_.

Petrarcha's Muse said...

The pink one also shouts feminism to me...maybe because I'm expecting an 'S' to accompany the PM...or that it's pink...I don't know. The Blue one I greatly prefer.

Vickie said...

The pink one doesn't tell my eye where to settle, very post-something, but in a way I don't enjoy.

I love the foregrounding of the photo in the blue one, because this particular photo is amazing, and because the underlying concept of this journal has always manifested as visual for me. The "medieval" in the postmodern is beautiful and, as Matthew points out, only incongruous in a necessary way.

I would love for the cover to be a gallery space reserved for the artists of the postmedieval; I am called to see the art this project produces; and such things help me think.

wheelocklatin@yahoo.com said...

I like the blue one best...it looks professional and smart and Victorian-y. Something I would pick up immediately.

prehensel said...

I hate to follow the herd, but I greatly prefer the blue one. I think the pink one--no matter what color it was--reduces the pic to meaningless space. The pic really is something for the eye to linger on, and it's a nice visual representation of this journals stated purpose.

Plus I'm not wild about the "pm" on the cover. I think instead,you could get a new acronym to balance PoMo...

PoMe!

Mike Smith said...

I like the blue one a lot -- especially the picture. But the "PM" is cool on the pink one.

Vellum said...

The pink one looks frivolous, the blue one looks serious. It's not entirely due to the coloration but I'm certain it's not independent of it. For what it's worth I'd go with the one on the right with a deep burgundy colour instead of the blue.

LanglandinSydney said...

Definitely the blue one. It just looks way better. Don't worry about whether Speculum would do it too! It'd be great if they spruced things up as well. No one will ever mistake postmedieval for Speculum in any case.

Blue looks great, there's no question that the medieval cathedral against the modern city is postmedieval; pink looks ... pink. And the image is too small too. Those are my reasons.

Rave on!
[BTW this is Lawrence Warner]

Karl Steel said...

I reiterate my suggestion from the FB: why not the blue cover w/ a pink cathedral?

Eileen Joy said...

We're actually seriously considering the pink cathedral, Karl, or pink skies. Stay tuned, and keep these suggestions coming!

And hello, Lawrence Warner.

Cheers.

anna klosowska said...

Burgundy...I think that's actually lovely with the black (plus makes you dream of good things....)

Jeffrey J. Cohen said...

I find the blue one reassuring and for that reason would avoid it.

Myra is right: what is to distinguish this soothing shade and nice photo from any other journal, or from an essay collection? If the picture changes constantly, then there is no "brand." The font isn't memorable enough to do that by itself.

Could the circle be enlarged on the pink one?

Chris said...

The blue one looks more "reassuring" because of the 90 degree angles, the straight lines, the well-proportioned font, and the balanced layout of the text. All of which the pink one avoids, but if the picture is going to change each issue -- if you have other good pictures lined up -- then that should be the focus. So stick with the "big picture" idea for the blue layout, but come up with something a little bolder and a little less easily stable (or something not stable at all, perhaps, although that might end up looking far too unprofessional?) for the text treatment.

(Also, I'm sure you've sent this around to colleagues in graphic design departments, right?)

Eileen Joy said...

Chris: thanks for your comments [thank you, everyone! keep them coming], and yes, we are trying to get graphic designers to weigh in, too. Craig Dionne, editor of the Journal of Narrative Theory, which just had a complete design overhaul [and a beautiful one], graciously offered to pass the postmedieval designs by the graphic designer that reworked their journal's look. Also, a friend of mine who is also a graphic designer, but who is NOT a medievalist or even an academic, just passed this on to me privately at Facebook, so I'll share it here:

"I prefer the full image of the cathedral compared to graphics though I do think it needs a more updated look. Most importantly, the larger image gives me an immediate sense of the subject matter and it draws me in more. I also like that the title banner is very clear in its placement and contrast. The colour scheme is however a bit dreary and it does look like a textbook. On the other version - I like the strength and excitement of the red and that it was a little “edgier” with the PM logo, but I think the cover loses impact because the subject is downplayed and the graphic nature is so prominent. Perhaps you could downsize that logo into a circle emblem and use it next to the Title on the blue banner. Even if it's pretty large and bleeds off the edge like a worn out stamped image.

I like the 'when did we become posthuman?' question on the cover. Perhaps that could also be incorporated onto the full cathedral design (in red of course to give it that pop). One last thought perhaps you could take your colour scheme from the great images on the BABEL site. If you’re trying to stay to two colour printing you may be able to get a cool effect half-toning a burnt orange and olive."

Hannah said...

I make no claims to any design expertise, but I vote for the blue one. The photo speaks to the journal's mission (hopefully later images will, too), and should hog the limelight.

Karl Steel said...

In re: the preference for blue as more serious, etc., see my post on chromophobia.

Liza Blake said...

A more informed response than my earlier one-off:

These two journals seem to represent two versions of the journal's mission: first, a big, bright, pink middle finger to more conservative journals; and second, a temporal blending of cathedral, city-scape, and eerily cloudy sky. While both challenging certain norms of scholarship and thinking about the meaning of "postmedieval" are important aims of the journal, I think the second is far more important. Once the shock value of the first has worn off, you're left with a tiny picture meant to convey a very important part of what the journal represents (as I understand it). I would shock up the second one a bit, if you think it requires more of that (font, choosing a louder color for the border, etc.).

The idea of coloring in the sky is fabulous, as it would add a kind of apocalyptic feel, creating at least one more temporality and maybe an expression of urgency. But as someone who has had to price many journals -- and practically speaking -- adding even one more color to the cover will increase printing costs astronomically. If you had the sky (or cathedral) colored in with a lighter version of whatever color you use as a background for the text (as the two shades of pink on the "PM" journal can be considered one color), that could work (but then you could be limited to a more ... neon color pallet to produce shocking effects regularly).

Sarah Rees Jones said...

PINK (more fun less, well, blue) - OK, I know I already cast my vote by email. But commenting here postpones the evil moment of turning to the marking I should be doing.

Myra Seaman said...

Thanks, especially, Liza, for considering your earlier response and for explaining your views. This helps a lot, as do the suggestions from Eileen's non-medievalist facebook friend. I especially like the "bleeding off the edge" idea. And Jeffrey, the branding issue you raise is, I think, a most important one that hasn't, I don't think, come up in our discussions thus far. Again, the "bleeding off the edge" PM (or some variation on it) might help with that?

Eddie Christie said...

I like the blue one. For this reason alone you should choose it.

K. A. Laity said...

I think the blue one visually dull and very textbook-like. If people find the pink too "girly" (sigh) a similar design with a different color -- say, magenta -- would be an option. The blue is very safe.

Nirgov said...

Perhaps color should be left out of this discussion for now? Looking only at the placement (and inclusion) of the various graphic elements, there is absolutely nothing about the "blue" cover that suggests the content will be boundary-challenging or heterodox...Shouldn't the cover suggest the editorial approach?

Nirgov said...

(ahem) That is, aside from the wonderful photograph.

kvond said...

For what it is worth, I think the pink one has the best "design" as the PM stands out as an iconic call to some new form or concept, needing to be decoded, but the color is all wrong. In fact, it shouldn't be a "color" but rather the background and the PM should be cut out of contrasting medieval images, perhaps a text close up, and a color painting, making of the three layers a soft jigsaw.

Margaret said...

I'm not a huge fan of either--I agree that the blue isn't edgy enough and the pink doesn't highlight the photo enough. I have a fantastic graphic design colleague who just volunteered to offer some thoughts if you all would be interested. I'm new to the group (just about to email Eileen about joining the listserv), but am very excited about the work you're doing and the journal's arrival.

I'll forward him the link and see what he says...

Eileen Joy said...

Thanks, Margaret; any extra advice we can get, we'll take it. Best, Eileen.

labbie said...

If these are the two firm options then I'd go with the blue- not because it is reassuring, but because it signifies historical trace and depth. If there are possible modifications, then I like the idea of taking the blue and making some of it pink (Anna's purple); sexy, new, and alluring; also, I'd lower the horizontal bar about an inch and cut through the sky to create interest. I'm not sure what a good therapist would make of this visual test, but it sounds nice to me. I'm so happy for you and your new creation!

Margaret said...

So, I finally spoke to my graphic design buddy, who prefers the blue one, particularly the photo. He likes the juxtaposition of the cathedral and the skyline, but he wasn't so keen on the blue itself.

He also wondered why the strong horizontal/vertical, which I think was a purely visual concern for him. I tend to agree, though, and I think his discomfort with both the color and the right angles might be connected to some of our comments on the blue seeming to staid and/or "reassuring."

Personally, I would love to see something more edgy and I'm trying to encourage him to submit a third option, if you all would be willing to consider it...

I also asked him if he has samples available on a website, so I'll keep you posted on his response.