As part of my Communication Design I class at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, I was prompted to design a two-page editorial spread. The requirements were straightforward: using InDesign, build the design around a grid, include page numbers, a header, a subhead, a pull quote, at least 750 words of copy, captions, and credits. Do not use unnecessary decorative graphic elements.
I was free to choose my subject matter, so long as I was passionate about it: in order to design effectively, I would need to conduct independent research to establish knowledge of and sensitivity to the material I wanted to work with.
I chose to research and design a spread around the idea that reading novels boosts one’s capacity for empathy. I have loved novels my whole life, and I’m empathetic to a fault (I habitually anticipate others’ needs and reactions to given situations; I’m quick to excuse my own mistreatment and others’ misbehavior because “it’s fine, I get where they’re coming from”. This is also sometimes called being a doormat). I had also previously encountered pieces of information online that indicated a correlation between reading and social well being, so I wanted to find out definitively whether the empathy that comes so naturally to me may be at least partly the result of my oldest hobby.
To compose my design, I sourced an article by Claudia Hammond and BBC Future (which I edited and condensed to fit my needs), identified my audience, and penned my header, subhead, and captions. Identifying my audience is crucial to my process because it impacts the mood I want to convey through my design choices. Once I know the mood I’m going for, I can weigh all my design decisions (typography, color palette, layout) against it. In this case, I decided I wanted to target an audience of single, educated, college-ageds to thirty-somethings who feel a desire to improve themselves through mindful activities. They may have young children, or they may not, but they value kindness and compassion in themselves and others. In the hypothetical event that my design saw publication, it might find a home in a laid-back psychology magazine or self-help brochure.
I genuinely enjoyed designing this spread, and I’m very satisfied with my end piece. While I believe I could take this design further (add visual interest, complexity, and depth, improve use of negative space, etc.), I am confident that it conveys the message I intend and that the design complements the subject matter. This piece solidified my affinity for editorial design, and I’m excited to explore more of this sect of design.