Trendspotting 2018: Editorial Design

Whether you’re designing for a print or online publication, many rules are the same with the goal being legibility. If users can’t read it or don’t understand the hierarchy, you’re going to lose them. Trends in editorial design have run the gamut from over-the-top imagery and graphics, to sparsely inhabited pages of floating type in a sea of white space. And what works for one publication doesn’t work for another, so it’s completely subjective.

Designers Xavier Schoebel and Amélie Lecocq have plenty of experience working in publication design in France for cultural institutions like the Louvre and Pompidou Center. Both teach graphic design—Xavier at LISAA, Institute of Applied Arts in Strasbourg, and Amelie at the Fine Arts of the University of Strasbourg. “Much of our work in editorial design revolves around cultural subjects, where we use illustrated charts and graphs to depict the information. For instance, what works for a children’s book, will not work in a fashion magazine,” Xavier explains.

Here, the duo, who also run their studio Collectif Ça va 2 Paire, share their predictions for five editorial design trends to watch for in 2018—many of which are tried and true.

  1. Typography: Mix it Up

The old type rules about using only two or three type styles in editorial design are no longer relevant. In fact, it’s fun to mix and fuse different fonts to create a particular mood. “We like the mix between old historic fonts and modern fonts, that are more flexible,” Amelie notes. “Creating contemporary typographic design sometimes means combining old and new to create a timeless vibe.”

  1. Color: Bright is Right

Bright, high contrasting colors can make the difference between a hum-drum layout and something that speaks to the masses. Xavier says, “Pairing a bright color with a pastel or gray tone, is a simple way to create depth and intrigue, similar to how vintage album covers were portrayed in the ’70s. There was a tendency to have bright illustrations or letters over less chromatic or black and white photos.” Oftentimes, the contrast contributed to the album’s narrative and intrigue.

  1. Images: Original vs. Stock

Stock photos are fine if you’re in a hurry or on a very tight budget, but original art is always best, and that’s a trend that’s never going to change—which is great for artists and photographers. Illustrators can take a story to a whole new level with their interpretation of the narrative. “It’s also fun to add headlines or drawings on top of photos—just be sure to get the photographer’s permission to do this if you’re not buying exclusive rights,” Amelie notes. “These graphic additions, can really add drama and perspective.” Of course, if you buy stock images, you don’t need permission to do that.

  1. Composition: Balancing text and images

Grids are always a starting point for any publication designer. Setting up the page, determining the width of columns, and how headlines will look on the page. “Oftentimes, designers will deconstruct a gird to create dynamism in a composition,” Xavier says. “For example, there is a tendency to use more space in the margins to put different types of information like a small photo that serves as a reference to the larger image found later in a publication.”

  1. Print vs. Online publications

We’ve been hearing it for years: “Print is dead.” Well, it’s not. Granted, the number of print publications has drastically dwindled in the last decade, but people—especially artists and designers—crave the tactile experience when it comes to flipping through a magazine or newspaper. “For us, digital editions can not replace print, but it’s a great complement,” Amelie notes. For instance, if you’re doing a limited print run, try using heavier sheets or different printing techniques, and then explain the process in the digital edition. Make them co-exist and work together.

Many of these trends aren’t new, but editorial design can be very experimental depending on your audience. As Xavier says, “It’s about finding a balance between different levels of text, photographs, and illustrations to create new visual conversations.”

Lettering Tips for Beginners

Joanna Muñoz, founded Wink & Wonder in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2013, as a freelance creative outlet outside of her full-time job as a graphic designer. “I got engaged not long after starting out and my work suddenly shifted toward calligraphy/lettering, as I documented the process of creating stationery and signage for our wedding. Everything else just kind of fell into place from there,” Muñoz says. “I stumbled across the Goodtype Instagram feed and was hooked. I felt like I struck gold finding a really great community to be a part of.” She’s been busy working on hand-lettering projects ever since.

Here, she shares advice and techniques to help aspiring lettering artists get started and follow their passion.

 1. What tools are best for people just getting started in lettering?

I’m a big fan of using what you have at your disposal before going on a shopping spree. The reality is that tools can only take you so far. It’s consistent, mindful practice and learning the fundamentals that will help propel your work forward.

Pencils— I’ve experimented with tons of brands, but always fall back on a few favorite tools: My go-to pencil is the .5mm Alvin Draft-Matic Pencil – the lead is thin enough for precise lines but wears down with use and creates that same texture you get from traditional graphite pencils. Using mechanical pencils alleviates the need for sharpening. For erasing, I use a kneaded eraser as it’s mess-free and does a great job of getting rid of lines.

Pens— I mainly use the Tombow Fudenosuke Hard and Soft brush pens when I initially create a piece. The soft brush pen has plenty of flexibility for me to create thick and thin lines by applying or releasing pressure, while the hard brush pen offers a little more structure and rigidity. I also use Micron pens (mostly .005, .01 and Graphic) for refining lines, and a Sharpie Brush Tip marker for filling in big areas with black ink.

Paper— I love Moleskine grid notebooks for sketching ideas, Pocket Scout Books for lettering on the go and Canson Marker Paper when I need to create a final piece because it’s super smooth, bleed-proof when inking, and transparent enough to use with a guide underneath the page.

Are there certain warm-up exercises you do? 

If I’ve taken a longer break than usual, I typically jump-start my muscle memory by writing out the alphabet (in cursive) until the rhythm of the pen or pencil starts to feel natural again. Most days, I simpy start out with really loose sketches of a concept to warm up.

What basic techniques would you recommend for a beginner?

Learn the letterforms – Understanding the different elements of each letter – serifs/san-serifs, x-heights, ascenders/descenders, flourishes, etc. – and how they work together will really up your hand lettering game. If you’re drawn to script styles, learning basic calligraphy will do wonders for you as well.

Relax – Having a death grip on your pen/pencil and applying too much pressure will cause your hand to tire out faster and create forced lines and letterforms. Ease your grip and (literally) go with the flow.

Go big – Sketch your concepts out as a whole word or phrase, and don’t draw letter by letter in full detail. Sketching loosely and focusing on the bigger picture will help you determine the overall composition of your piece. It’s best to create several quick layouts and include all of your design elements to see what works best (or doesn’t), especially if you’re using a photo and incorporating lettering. Once you’re happy with the structure of a piece, you can move on to refining the details.

Contrast is key – When using brush pens, you’ll generally want to apply pressure on a downstroke to create thicker lines, and release pressure on an upstroke to create thin lines. The change in pen pressure will create varying line width and give your work some added dimension.

Where (or who) do you look for inspiration? 

Instagram is my social platform of choice for inspiration. I’m a huge fan of @Goodtype’s wonderfully curated and very diverse feed, where you can see artwork from concept to completion and in every medium imaginable. Founder, Brooke Robinson, also does a phenomenal job of showcasing new artists alongside well-known ones.

In terms of inspiration, Gemma O’Brien, Jennet Liaw, Becca Clason, Lauren Hom, Nick Misani, Noel Shiveley, Adé Hogue, Christopher Craig, and Danger Dust never cease to amaze me. Not only are they talented, but they all create pieces with an incredible attention to detail and have mastered a variety of lettering styles.

Do you have a practice project you would recommend for beginners?  

Lettering a quote is what most, if not all, letterers have done at one point or another… and I still do it when I can’t think of anything else to write. Inspirational quotes are overdone, so challenge yourself by doing something different. Why not try a phrase from your favorite television show, an uninspirational quote, or a pun for a fun twist?

The last few quotes I’ve lettered were based on the latest season of Game of Thrones. Not only was it super fun for me to draw, but it’s a topic that almost everyone can relate to and hopefully appreciates. Think about how many words and design elements you’ll need to draw and how you want it to fit on the page. Start with loose sketches and begin to refine once you’ve locked in a composition that works for your piece. Most of all, remember that exploring different ideas, tools, styles, and techniques is all part of the process. Have fun with it!