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Features / Graphic Design

“Everything has changed”: new Dazed art director Jamie Reid talks us through the mag’s redesign

After graduation, most people face a brief period of jubilation, a longer comedown, and an even longer period of “what the fuck do I do with my life now.” But once these jitters have passed, if you’re driven (and a bit lucky) a few years can sail past and you gently get your nervous little feet in the door, and pedal them up some sort of mythical “career ladder.” Few people go from graduate to art director of Dazed in the space of four years. But that’s what Essex-born, sharp-as-a-tack young designer Jamie Reid did. And not just that, but in his first two months in the job, his team redesigned the whole damn thing. In the true spirit of the mag, they ripped it up and started all over again.

“Everything has changed, we didn’t keep anything from the previous incarnation,” Jamie says, explaining that the bold new direction was the result of a whole new Dazed team comprising editor-in-chief Isabella Burley and creative director Robbie Spencer. With the new team naturally came a new editorial direction, which focused on using the printed version of Dazed as a very separate entity to its digital counterpart. “We try to elaborate more in the stories in the magazine,” Jamie explains. “Because Dazed has such a strong digital platform the structure of the mag had to change.”

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Jamie Reid: Dazed redesign

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The print magazine now looks to fully embrace its medium, becoming a fashion-oriented, covetable “object” once more. For a start, it uses a shift in paper stock to represent a shift in content: the fashion pages are glossy, while the more editorially-led are in matte. “We wanted to make it feel like a more expensive and worthwhile project,” says Jamie. “You have to be clever now with print, and make sure what you’re producing is worth producing.”

Along with a new structure came a fresh new blockier logo in Compacta Black, returning to the magazine’s earlier incarnations. “We’ve basically gone back to the typeface that has been modified throughout the years,” says Jamie. “I felt this was better suited to what we were trying to do now. Visually it had to be more impactful and less polite.”

The beauty of a fresh young thing with a stark, no bullshit approach to design is a fearlessness that rejects such dull accoutrements as templates or fixed structures, carried doggedly from issue to issue. Jamie cites reference points as diverse as Patti Smith posters, Scandinavian book covers and vintage transsexual porn magazines, and he says each edition of Dazed will look thoroughly different from the next. Everything, design-wise, is up for grabs. Each issue is now designed around the content, rather than any inherited aesthetic rules. “I felt it had been quite systematic,” Jamie muses. “Now it feels a bit freer, it’s got the scope to evolve with each issue. If we commission something that deserves four covers we will shoot four different covers.”

“It wasn’t just change for the sake of it. I’m never interested in just setting something up and stepping back.”

Jamie Reid

And shoot four different covers they did, at least for the Autumn issue – one is by Harley Weir; one by Gregory Harris and two were shot by Roe Ethridge. As well as allowing the team to flex its new, more elastic creative muscle, using a different type layout and masthead cover for each, it was a shrewd move that would see each image speaking to a different audience, says Jamie. One such cover is that shot by Harley of hip-hop star Young Thug, who the team travelled out to Atlanta to see. And for whom Jamie “ran a bubble bath.” He adds: “I think the split cover is a strong message to put out, that diversity. The theme of the issue is ‘the new agenda’, and we’ve used models and stories that could have been slightly taboo at another time.

“It needed to represent a new era. It really is a new era and a total reboot. Obviously I wanted to have an imprint as a new art director, but it wasn’t just change for the sake of it. I’m never interested in just setting something up and stepping back.” We don’t doubt it, Jamie.

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Jamie Reid: Dazed redesign

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Jamie Reid: Dazed redesign

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Jamie Reid: Dazed redesign

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Jamie Reid: Dazed redesign

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Jamie Reid: Dazed redesign

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Jamie Reid: Dazed redesign