It’s all Relevant
Though I am pro printed publications I too can be held accountable for viewing magazines online through the use of Issuu. If a magazine isn’t available in your country, Issuu makes it possible to see your favourite articles in print form. Is it the same? No. Daniele Pender agrees. In an article entitled Print is Dead! Long Live Print! Pender writes “Print offers a different experience altogether. It’s sensory, the smell and the feel each add something different to the content. Something committed to print holds more weight in the eye of the reader than something online.” I miss the smell of the paper and sound of the paper as I turn from one page to the next. Unfortunately having a page curling sound effect doesn’t quite cut it. However, Issuu serves a great purpose to help publishing companies reach a wider audience than they can through print products. The pages look exactly the same on screen as they would when printed, so from a design perspective you don’t miss out on anything other than the nostalgia of holding a physical product.
Why is this all relevant? Well, that’s because one of my go to magazines when I need an editorial creative boost or a consistently strong magazine, both in design and content, I always turn to Relevant magazine.
Though the magazine prints and distributes in the United States, Issuu allows me to see the product in all its glory despite the distance. There is such attention to detail that I look forward to seeing how they incorporate a blend of typography and imagery in every issue. I may have only discovered Relevant sometime in 2013 but, by chance one day, I found a magazine with a decade of success and a somewhat independent vibe due to its mishmash of content. Since first publishing back in 2003 the way the magazine works has shifted due to the increase in digital demands. Daily content is uploaded to their website as a magazine blog and to engage with its target market they have introduced podcasts and a section called “The Drop” for all your musical needs. This greatly contributes to how magazine culture has changed in the print vs digital debate. It seems that no longer can you cater to just one platform. The biggest successes are companies that are versatile and willing to adapt to changing trends in publication distribution and that is something Relevant have done to stay current, and, let’s face it, relevant.
It seems that no longer can you cater to just one platform. The biggest successes are companies that are versatile and willing to adapt to changing trends in publication distribution.
A large part of the magazine is God and faith based. Their tagline of “God, life and progressive culture” stands true to this day as they publish content based on experiences with God and incorporating Him into everyday life. Even if you aren’t a believer, there is still something in this magazine for everyone. Recent issues have seen interviews with Reese Witherspoon, Jim Gaffigan and feature popular mainstream artists such as Imagine Dragons and Foals. The content is sound in its quality and diversity, not to mention its consistency of layout and attention to detail.
A part of the reason why digital has superseded print magazines is due to access. Relevant’s daily content on the website keeps readers engaged. Even if they are devoted to their physical copies, the website gives them that added something to tide them over until the next issue. You cannot deny that this is smart in business and necessary when running a magazine or blog – content is everything in the digital age as is its frequency. This is where print struggles to compete. As soon as an issue of Relevant hits the shelves and the digital copy has been uploaded somewhere on the internet, a handful of new articles have been posted to the website with content for the next issue in the stages of approval and being sent to the layout team. Nonetheless, appreciation for printed editorial products will keep the industry alive. Having the right balance between online content and print frequency is crucial and Relevant seem to juggle both to the point where you are led to see that print and digital go hand in hand.
Content is everything in the digital age as is its frequency.
But alas, blog posts cannot compete with the design of a printed publication. Pender questions “What will remain of your blog in thirty years?” and this is true. We don’t know how digital archiving works or how the internet backs things up. If your website is hacked, will you lose all of your blog history in the process? This is why we cannot deny the existence of print and its importance in media and design – and Relevant is a magazine you don’t want to miss out on when it comes to editorial design.
Minimalism and clean lines is the key to this magazine. Like every other magazine or newspaper, Relevant follows the same format for each issue. Each feature article is spread across four pages, with the first page manipulating typography around photography as part of the introduction. From here each feature article is given its own individuality with a range of visual drop caps throughout the magazine. Sometimes the drop cap will be standardised whereas, more often than not, on the feature pages the drop cap is an elegant creative way to showcase typography. The drop cap in Relevant is a prominent design feature that lures the readers into the article. Whether the drop cap takes up the height of three lines or stands independently on its own as a design characteristic, this is a feature that makes Relevant unique to editorial design. Small attention to detail with the drop cap brings a new life to editorial and print production as it pushes the boundaries of what is traditional and expected in editorial design. To keep pushing the boundaries in this way will arguably keep the need for print alive and relevant.
But editorial design isn’t always about the page layouts and the photography that accompany the articles. A publication becomes a publication through advertising. Advertising is what funds the overhead costs and getting the balance between editorial and advertising is a struggle in production. The great thing about Relevant is all its advertising is high quality and quirky in design. You don’t feel as if you’re bombarded with pictures of someone trying to sell you something, rather you’re looking at designs to promote the magazine or some kind of upcoming event that targets both the faith readers and the non-believers. The adverts are mostly full pages so the quality of the editorial design doesn’t suffer from squeezing in adverts on feature pages when unnecessary. Do full pages generate more revenue? Yes, but they also add more to a publication than a quarter page that leaves an awkward boxy shape to work editorial around. Plus the benefits of inprint advertising far outweigh an advert on a website, especially with pop-up blockers and ad-blockers on our internet browsers. Relevant recognises this, showing that they favour print over their digital aspects while also producing their minimalistic magazine approach onto their website.
Relevant is a fine example of why print is still alive and well today. To agree with Pender “printed matter, whether magazines, books, photographs or artwork, will prevail because it’s part of our make-up, and I think that’s something to be celebrated.” Print should be celebrated as should the publications keeping it alive. So cheers to you Relevant for making print relevant again.
Pender, D (2015). Print is Dead! Long Live Print. People of Print. London: Thames & Hudson.
Zeegan, L (2015). A Life in Print. People of Print. London: Thames & Hudson.