Tate Etc magazine has redesigned for the first time in its 14 years, ditching the Tate logo in favour of its own identity. Designed by Ard, a young London-based studio comprising Guillaume Chuard and Daniel Nørregaard, the revamp aims to herald the magazine’s “maverick position”, as editor Simon Grant explains.
“What’s unique about the magazine is its sense of independence, which was really down to Nicholas Serota (former director of Tate), who said ‘give it a life of its own’,” says Simon. “We’re not the Pravda of the Tate; our strength is our independent spirit. There are other institutions who produce magazines 100% for themselves, and it’s limiting. Readers don’t want to be told what to think, they want opinion, passionate writing, original imagery – we hardly ever publish generic press images because they’re boring.”
Instead, most of the imagery in Tate Etc is previously unpublished, a prime example being one of its three relaunch covers: a rarely seen photographic portrait of Alberto Giacometti. “Yes it’s a Tate show, but there’s no way we would use the marketing shots from the exhibition. That’s the strength of what we’re doing.” Another limited-run, secret cover features an equally rare photo of a topless Giacometti, while the third cover focuses on the Tate Modern show, Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power. Inside there are more opinion pieces, smaller features and a diary section, plus features by Singer Sargent expert Elaine Kilmurray on the making of an artwork, and a “brilliantly funny” archive piece by poet Daljit Nagra.
Interestingly, Tate Etc has the largest circulation of any art magazine in the world, with a print run of 130,000. The majority go to members, the rest to mainstream stores and institution shops around the world. The team, however, felt that the existing design wasn’t making the most of its place on the newsstands. “The magazine had become invisible, so the brief was to have better presence on the newsstands. It’s stronger, more glossy, and more accessible.”
The new logo is based on the typeface RH Inter, explain the designers Guillaume and Daniel. “It’s a revival of a late 19th Century grotesque font. It was redrawn by Swiss designer Robert Huber, then we added straight and rounded angles referring directly to the Tate typeface.” Two weights of RH Inter are also used throughout the magazine. The change to title case was a way for the designers to “subtly show its change of identity, and make the magazine more friendly, plus it has lots of nice features in the lowercase glyphs”.
“While the logo has a lot of personality, it is also quite modest and universal, allowing it to exist along many different kinds of visual material from a wide range of periods.”
A custom typeface, Tate Etcentury, has also developed by designers in collaboration with another Swiss designer Julien Mercier. Based on Century Schoolbook Monospace, an early 20th century typeface with “small quirks and off-points”. The face is used for headlines, captions and the entire back section of the mag, while the body text is set in Century Schoolbook.
Overall the design’s intention was to connect more with readers of all types. “The layout had to accommodate very light and versatile content but also be didactic and convince a mainstream readership to read about art,” say Guillaume and Daniel. For the first issue, the layout is based on a classic grid that can be pushed when the time comes. “We’ve set the rules and tools to show the functionality of the redesign, a soft way to introduce the new formula. But it will evolve – for instance we’re planning to introduce custom typefaces for each issue, by various designers. As art directors, we also see the magazine as an experimental platform to promote other type designers, photographers and illustrators.”
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