Radical Transparency — An Open Letter

This following text is an open letter to Angelo Benedetto, Nicole Udry, Ludovic Balland, Jonas Vögeli, Ian Party, Gilles Gavillet, François Rappo, James Goggin — and dedicated to everyone else mentioned in the following text who did not know about my plans up to now (→ you will get a mail soon!) and aims to provide some transparency into my process at the moment — for everyone who’s interested.

Dear Teachers,

I write you this email to give you a theoretic overview on the current state of my two graphic design semester projects.

I’m sorry that my following decription turned out to be pretty long and detailed, but I also simply saw it as a good possibilty for me to review and structure what I have done so far and where I’m heading to.

Important note before I start with the decription of the projects: both of them are designed/written and planed as two new issues of my already existing magazine Better Mjstakes — so at the same time there will be a strong focus on printing and distribution too.

Project I — work title:

The Research Issue: A profound journey into Art Direction and Interview Design in an editorial context.

As the title indicates my research will be an analysis on the process of creating magazines, with a special technical regard on the construction of interviews. Plus a more “subjective” view discourse on creating a certain atmosphere of a magazine.

The present state of the table of contents is the following:

I. Introduction — “Why?”
The magazine will start off with an ambitious reflexion and an attempt to describe my fascination for the subject and my interest in graphic and editorial design in general.

II. Radical Little Magazines — On Attitude
An additional text (maybe combined with the introduction) on the radicalness and power of young magazine creators — from today in comparison with the past — shown with the example of an exhibition called “Clip/Stamp/Fold — The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X-197X”.

III. Magazine Analysis — Personally written descriptions + images
I’m analysing a range of favourite magazines — mainly contemporary and from the cultural sector — but also groundbreaking titles from the past as well as highly commercial publications. Additional interviews with the creators will provide insight information into the process of creation.

IV. Interviews I — With special regard on designing

Tim Giesen (032c, Arch+)
Veronica Ditting (Fantastic Man, Gentlewoman)
Mirko Borsche (Zeit Magazin, Human Globaler Zufall)
Ryan Waller (Hot Gun, New College Beat)
Emmanuel Crivelli (Dorade)
Dylan Fracareta (PIN-UP)

V. Interviews II — With special regard on art direction

Jop van Bennekom (Fantastic Man, Gentlewoman, Butt)
Olivier Zahm (Purple)
Maxime Büchi (Sang Bleu)
Felix Burrichter (PIN-UP)
Kai von Rabenau (Mono.Kultur)
Jörg Koch (032c)

VI. Practical Part — A graphical research
Presentation and analysis of my graphical research for the second semester project (see Project II below)

VII. Conclusion — Future visions
A summary and reflexion on the journey and what I have learned from it for the future.

Although not all of the content is finished/arrived yet, I have — of coursce —already started designing.

But besides a rather classical print version I recently thought about a more ambitious idea for the form: a (technically simple) version of the issue for the iPad, which allows the reader to see and feel the progress of the design acording to the content live. The design could start extremely basic for example, but then after reading the first interviews the aesthetic is magically transforming and getting more complex.

Also, an iPad version could really push the boundaries in the presentation of my research. I could provide additional information, links, recources, additional images, maybe audio/video material.

Above that I just like the idea to have a self-made/self-initiated/self-published-young student’s-design/theory-magazine available as iPad/interactive version. I think this could be pretty revolutionary, also in regard to our mission to spread the word and to share our ideas and visions to a wider audience than just (graphic) designers.

But how would the digital version be connected to print? Is print then still necessary?
Is there maybe just a link to a print-on-demand service to get the issue in a real magazine format?

Project II — work title:

Mike Meiré vs. Hugo Hoppmann — A conversation.

The second new issue of Better Mjstakes will contain a conversation that I recorded this summer while I was doing an internship at Mike Meiré in Cologne.

We talked for over two hours non-stop so the transcription of the interview is pretty heavy material = ca. 40 A4 pages of pure text.

Although I’m already busy designing, I’m constantly re-asking myself: how do I edit the material? Am I cutting away everything not-so-important? Is there anything not-so-important? Wouldn’t it be interesting to keep everything how it was originally said?

An important fact in regarding the concept: Although the magazine will have only one conversation as principal content, I want to create a whole system of references images, footnotes, personal background information, universe around the interview. So this will also be a specific aim in my research (Project I) — too discover (and reinterpret) solutions like the in-text-thumbnails in Fantastic Man or in-line-footnotes as seen in Dorade, or supplement-like reference pages like used in Gentlewoman.

In fact Project I + Project II are heavily connected. And not only for technical part (as described before) but also on a more subjective level: What are the crucial steps to create a new magazine? How to create a certain atmosphere? What is the role of an art director? What makes a good interview?
These are just some of the questions I want to ask leading magazine creators like Jop van Bennekom, Olivier Zahm, Jörg Koch, Felix Burrichter that will help to shape the direction and design of this interview.

So: Project I (the research issue) will naturally amending Project II (the conversation issue).

What do you think of all this?

Maybe you will find some time to give me a quick feedback the next days — I would be thankful for any support.

Looking forward to see you all next week!



PS: James and Mr. Rappo, I also send this mail to you in the hope of a conversation with you in the near future — if you find the time and motivation to do so.

PPS: This email is an “open letter”, so you can also find an online version of it on my blog.
(+ The first finished interview — with Kai von Rabenau, publisher of mono.kultur — is already available here.

Now dear readers: What do YOU think of all this?
Is it ok to publish an “open letter” like this? Does it feel somehow arrogant? What could I have done better?
Am I a total geek?