Redesigning PEOPLE magazine is like reupholstering Archie Bunker's chair," says PEOPLE art director T. Courtney Brown. She should know. For the past 11 months, Brown and the team pictured above have labored to update the look of the magazine without losing the comfortable familiarity that has made it an American institution. You hold the results of their labors in your hands—the first thorough revamping of PEOPLE magazine since it began publication almost 15 years ago.
The magazine's make-over began more than a year ago when managing editor Jim Gaines decided that a little cosmetic surgery was needed to prepare PEOPLE for the 1990s. He consulted several outside designers, explaining to each that he wanted a redesign of PEOPLE to "change it but keep it the same." Eventually he decided that our own art director had the best feel for translating that apparently contradictory mandate into a fresher, sharper PEOPLE.
Brown and her design group—Carveth Kramer, Carlos Delgado, Gwen Waldron and later the entire art department—then spent months experimenting with changes in the magazine's type and layouts. Their aim, she says, was to make PEOPLE more "reader friendly" without altering its basic appearance. Among other things, they selected a new typeface for both text and headlines and added dashes of red, most notably in section heads.
Yet even those seemingly simple changes meant weeks of effort for copy processing manager Alan Anuskiewicz and his department. Deputy Tony Zarvos (not pictured above) and Jennifer Paradis-Hagar helped him, he says, to transform "Courtney's artistic vision into an editorial, technological reality." In other words, they had to translate it for the computer, and computers do not recognize subtlety. Even the slightest alterations required major reprogramming, and Anuskiewicz's group had to develop new computer commands for every line, indentation and typeface that struck the design team's fancy.
Those little bars of red, Anuskiewicz reports, proved particularly pesky. Not just any red would do. To get the precise red that the designers had chosen required two satellite-transmitted sets of data for each spot of color: one for magenta and another for the dash of yellow that is layered with it at the printing plant to make red with the right stuff.
Long weeks of tinkering, testing and troubleshooting later, the PEOPLE redesign team hopes that the changes they have wrought will underwhelm you. A staunch disciple of the "less is more" school of design, Brown says, "I want our readers to like the magazine better, but not to realize exactly why they do."
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