Tagged: tufts

Eight questions for Margot Grisar

Margot Grisar is design director for a half-dozen magazines at Tufts University. Which does not explain how she had time to respond to the UMagazinology designer questionnaire. Just one more person more productive than me.

tuftspigHow long have you been in your present job?

I’ve been at Tufts for almost 16 years, and have worked exclusively on the university’s six alumni magazines for almost 10.

What has proven to be the most significant thing you had to learn to do that job?

Being the lead designer was new to me when I came to Tufts. I had to create the vision for the magazines as well as guide other designers in the expression of that vision. I had wise design mentors and studied other magazines. For me it became about telling Tufts’ story. Creating a visual experience that gets across the tone and mood of each article, as well as creating an overall connection to the university are my principal goals.

What has proven to be your biggest frustration?

It’s been challenging working with minimal budgets, a lean staff and shifting timelines.

Is there a cover or story spread that you are particularly proud of?

beeI’m the most proud of the recent redesign of our family of magazines. (I collaborated with Kelly McMurray and her team at 2communiqué). A few examples are: The pig plate cover about sustainable cuisine is still my favorite cover of Tufts Magazine. This was the inaugural cover (Fall 1014), created by 2communiqué. This cover started a trend of creating stand-alone iconic, quirky, bright, and compelling images on Tufts Magazine covers. Another standout is the bee cover for the urban bee-keeping story. spreadThe concept came from Laura McFadden, illustration by Neil Webb. We also teased an animated version of the cover on social media. I’d also include the Tufts Magazine feature opener for a stunning profile about poet Patrick Mahoney coming back from a near fatal bicycle accident. Bay area photographer Timothy Archibald captured Patrick’s personality beautifully. The soda grenade cover on the latest issue of Tufts Nutrition magazine was a true collaboration among design, editorial and photography. The cover story, about the dangers of sugary beverages, generated many ideas.grenade Designer Betsy Hayes’ concept—a grenade made of sugar cubes—is the one we landed on. Editor-in-chief John Wolfson suggested changing it to a soda can grenade to emphasize consuming sugar in a drink. I worked closely with photographer Christopher Harting to bring our vision to life.

As a designer, what part of your magazine are you never quite satisfied with?

The back of the book gets filled with institutional news. Sometimes the section can get text heavy, interrupted only occasionally with rather staid images. It’s hard to keep it visually dynamic. I encourage the addition of lively short pieces and introduce white space and graphic elements when possible.

What other magazine, alumni or otherwise, do you admire for its design?

Nautilus is my new favorite science magazine. I am a longtime admirer of The New York Times Magazine, Texas Monthly, Uppercase, Vanity Fair, More . . . I could go on and on!

If you could hire for a story any illustrator in the world, who would it be? And photographer?

I am continually thrilled that I get to work with such bright, creative illustrators and photographers. A couple of illustrators I haven’t had the chance to work with yet are Eric Drooker and photo-illustrator Dan Saelinger.

If you were not a magazine art director, what would be your dream job?

As a lifelong book devourer, I find designing and art directing well-crafted prose to be a pretty sweet gig. But I’d love to be an illustrator, painter, or fabric designer. I studied printmaking and painting in art school and fell into design as a way to make a living.

 

A Doctor Writes

manchandaThere are physicians who can write—Atul Gawande is Exhibit A—but they are uncommon. Rishi Manchanda is one of them, if “Wide-Angle Healing” in the Winter 2014 issue of Tufts Medicine is any indication. Manchanda’s piece is a cogent, well-wrought explication of all that’s wrong with emphasizing medical care in US health-care thinking.

The physician-author, who is founder and president of HealthBegins, a new health care company in Los Angeles, opens with an effective narrative from his personal clinical experience:

It was an unseasonably warm spring day in south-central Los Angeles in 2011. Veronica, a 33-year-old woman, sat in my exam room, her head in her hands. Her otherwise tall and formidable figure was slouched over in pain. This was not the first time she had felt this way. For more than a year her headaches had come and gone. And each time, the pain would ripple through her life, disrupting her family and work. This episode was no different. She had missed about seven days of work as an office manager at an auto parts dealer in the past month.

Good start. Manchanda uses Veronica’s case as an example of someone who had received treatment that he describes as “what is generally considered adequate care.” Adequate even though Veronica continued to have debilitating headaches. It was only after his clinic noted that her apartment was afflicted with leaks, mold, and roaches, that he could correctly diagnose her problem as a reaction to what she (and her children) had been breathing in the apartment and finally deliver an effective intervention to make her well.

I noted Manchanda’s cogency:

The nature-vs.-nurture debate can no longer be viewed as a battle between equals. The impact of nurture—in the form of the social and environmental settings that surround us—is far more powerful than we’ve ever imagined These are the forces that shape or distort our genes, our behaviors and the landscape of opportunity in our communities.

These essays in alumni magazines frequently suffer from being mealy mouthed; authors shy from asserting anything that might provoke. Manchanda writes like he means it:

I would suggest that the current standard of care itself is simply unacceptable, from a moral and an economic perspective.

That would have been a stronger statement without the “I would suggest” bit, but it still stands out from the vanilla banality that permeates so many university magazines. Good work.

 

Got you covered

A pair of terrific covers landed in my mailbox recently.

The first was from Drew Magazine, the dependably fine magazine from Drew University in New Jersey:

drewcov

 

You can’t tell from the digital facsimile, but the cover text is reverse embossed silver foil. The cover story is about the school’s most recent campaign, written as a narrative of an urgent and successful—yeah, yeah, spoiler—push to reverse a decline in the participation rate. Editor Renée Olsen followed with five short profiles of contributors. Then comes a 50-page honor roll of donors. Publishing campaign honor rolls is not an editorial practice that I endorse, but sometimes an editor’s gotta do what an editor’s gotta do.

The second cover was from Tufts Magazine:

tuftsbulletcover

The cover story is “Up in Arms,” a fascinating piece by Colin Woodard about how the current contention regarding gun laws derives from how North America was settled. When I first glanced at the magazine, I loved the cover but was not enthused about another gun control story, because I’ve grown sick of American society’s appalling inability to even conduct the conversation. But I started in on the story anyway, and I’m glad I did. Woodard, a Tufts alum, is the author of American Nations: A History of the Eleven Regional Cultures of North America (Penguin 2012), and this story is drawn from that work. His thesis is that the United States can be divided into 11 regions with distinct dominant cultures, and each region has a different attitude toward violence and gun culture, derived in part from who settled there. Woodard first summarizes the settlement and cultural characteristics of each of his 11 sub-nations, then discusses the correlations between patterns of violence and those delineations. He also explores the regional attitudes towards gun laws, self-defense laws, and capital punishment. It’s a fascinating piece.

UMag inbox: Lots of pictures

swatcoverA couple of terrific covers in my inbox. The first is from Swarthmore, a photo of Jackie Morgen, founder of the Swat Circus at the college, by Laurence Kesterson. The “cover story” is about seven inches in the front of the book, which strikes me as odd. I’m still not quite on board with the thinking that the cover story need not be a feature. But the counter-argument is that your cover works if it gets people to pick up and open the magazine, and this one works in that regard. (Sherri Kimmel edits the magazine.)

tuftscoverThe second cover, which I really love, comes courtesy of Tufts. For those of you who can’t place the school, Tufts is in Boston. In the wake of the bombing of this year’s Boston Marathon, editor David Brittan ran a tribute to Tufts marathoners, including former student Bobbi Gibb, who in 1966 defied a ban on female runners in the marathon, snuck into the field disguised as a man, and as far as anyone knows became the first woman to complete the race, running the 26.2 miles in 3:21. Photographer Kathleen Dooher was assigned the job of creating a striking cover image of a Gibb, and man oh man did she succeed.

Dartmouth Medicine has updated its design package. Editor is Amos Esty; design by Bates Creative. Below are covers from before and after. (Click on all of these if you want to see them honkin’ big.)

dmcover1   dmcover2

 

ricecoverWhile we’re asking various magazines “have you done something different with your hair?” I have to note a redesign I love, at Rice. It was executed by the magazine’s newish (as of November 2012) art director Erick Delgado. I’d point you to an electronic version or PDF edition so you could admire more of it, but the magazine does not seem to be online. Lynn Gosnell edits.

vettatsFinally, LMU out of Loyola Marymount has a great six-page spread on memorial tattoos. Written by editor Joseph Wakelee-Lynch, “Ink Tank” describes and samples the Memorial Ink project by Andrew Ranson. Ranson finds veterans who bear tattoos that memorialize comrades who were killed in action, then interviews them and photographs their memorials. The magazine’s website has created a gallery of the Jon Rou photos that accompanied the story.

How’s this for coordination?

The Tufts University publishing empire—note the array above—hit a new mark for a coordinated communications strategy with its Spring 2011 editions. Each magazine published the same Taylor McNeil interview with incoming president Anthony Monaco (below). Same text, same four-page spread. The only thing that differed is where the editors ran the piece. Julie Flaherty led the feature well of Tufts Nutrition with the Q&A; Helene Ragovin held it for pg. 26 of Tufts Dental Medicine.

Tufts Magazine, the flagship publication edited by David Brittan, was first to publish the Q&A in its Winter 2011 edition. Brittan notes that a central publications office produces all five titles and coordinates content when there’s a major event or announcement, such as, in this case, a new president. This way of working arose from an institutional branding effort around 2004 and 2005 (just before Brittan arrived) and the conclusion that the Tufts professional school magazines were too disparate in presentation and all concerned would benefit from a more consistent look.

The circulations of Tufts and the divisional magazines overlap, to varying degrees, but Brittan says he fields few complaints from readers who notice duplicate content. He adds that unlike his magazine, each of the four professional school magazines circulates to non-alumni who have some connection to the schools; those readers do not receive Brittan’s flagship title, so a story in a divisional publication is the only way to reach them.