As part of an introductory graphic design course, I redesigned the Vouge Magazine feature about Kamala Harris to address the controversy that arose from the causal appreciation for such a momentous achievement for several minority groups.
On January 19, 2021, the popular fashion magazine Vogue fell under scrutiny for its magazine cover for the way its casual and informal tone represented the first Black, Asian, Female Vice-President; Kamala Harris. While the magazine intended to highlight Harris’s approachable and authentic nature, it comes across as disrespectful from a magazine with a long tradition of creating formidable covers.
My goal was to bring back a sense of power and authority in my re-design, that better illustrates the groundbreaking nature of the first Black, Asian, Female Vice-President. Bringing back a sense of power and authority that illustrates the groundbreaking nature of the first Black, Asian, Female Vice-President.
The audience for this re-design is the same as the original publication; young women between 20-45 years who are interested in fashion, beauty, and popular culture. Such people would be looking to the magazine to improve or obscure their insecurities. However, the re-design will have a unique focus on representation and thus seek to attract the attention and approval of Black, Asian and female consumers who may feel seen or included by the article.
The driving concept behind the project was to convey a professional tone that captures the power and authority of the Vice President while acknowledging the representation of diverse communities who have struggled to reach such heights of power. But, it was also important to balance that power and authority with a sense of approachability to ensure Harris didn’t come across as mean or scary.
The driving concept behind the re-design of Vogue’s interior layout was to make the content more easily accessible for readers by providing many points of entry. This contrasts with Vogue’s original design style which resembles a book rather than a magazine, with text-heavy pages and a strong grey tone. For an issue about representing marginalized communities, I wanted to make sure they can participate in the article.
Designing a magazine layout is an iterative process that requires multiple rounds of revisions and critiques to achieve the best final result. In my process, I began with a brainstorming session to come up with initial ideas and concepts for the layout. I then created rough sketches and wireframes to lay out the basic structure and design elements. From there, I moved on to creating more detailed mockups, experimenting with different typography, imagery, and layout options. Each iteration was reviewed and critiqued by both myself and other designers to ensure that it met the project’s goals and objectives. Annotated notes were added to highlight areas of improvement and areas that needed further development. The key to finding a successful layout was to be open to critiques and feedback, and to be willing to try different approaches until the perfect design was achieved.
The overall design approach is to maintain Vogue’s modern and feminine aesthetic while conveying a sense of power and authority. I choose to use Vogue’s existing typographic style as a base for the design style because it captures the magazineís overall ethos. The goal was to establish how Vogue could approach a more serious tone of representation, and thus it was important to maintain its ethos while elevating it.
Conceptually to achieve a powerful and authoritative feeling I carefully selected imagery with semiotic signs that further the message. The semiotics signs of body language (crossed arms and eye line), to external factors such as podiums, desks, and nameplates. A good example is the image of a pensive Harris in the article opener looking toward the future and encouraging readers to continue reading.
To make the article experience approachable I included a loss of white space (drop margin) which invites the reading into the design. Additionally, adding points of entry such as photos, captions, and pull quotes makes the pages more scannable. I chose a 6 column grid style so that two-column paragraphs would have an appropriate line length, while also allowing the flexibility for images to cross the grid and spine for a fluid layout.
For the infographic, I wanted to focus on the representational aspect of Harris, and how she is a good candidate for the job. The goal was to synthesize the qualities of a Vice-President and combine them with Harrisís qualifications. Additionally, I chose to tie in the same lavender color from the title to continue the sense of flow and cohesion throughout the issue.
In the end, I feel like my work has improved over the course of the project and I’m really proud of how the final layout turned out. It was definitely a challenge to translate my initial concept and brief into a visual concept, but with some iterating and experimenting, I found the perfect solution for readability and flow.