NY Times Magazine: Innovating the Innovation issue

by | Jun 7, 2012

Rarely is the public offered a glimpse behind the closed doors of the New York Times, so it was a bit of a thrill to see the ‘behind-the-scenes’ process for the publication, from conception of an issue right through to delivering the product.

The theme of this week’s New York Times Magazine is innovation. 32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow has been published online, and it well worth a read.

As a treat to readers, the NY Times magazine blog plots out the step-by-step process into designing and creating this week’s issue. It really is fascinating to see many different skilled and creative minds at the top of their game collaborate and workshop ideas.

Brief

The New York Times Magazine logo has not changed since it was launched 116 years ago. Outside designers were asked to breathe new life into the iconic logo. What follows charts the creative process for the logo, the cover as well as between the covers of the magazine.

Requirements for the new logo were that it had to be experimental, eligible, and say the New York Times. That was it. The creative types were otherwise given free reign over their rethink of the logo.

Process

Sixty-nine proposals were received from a range of firms and individuals. The difficult task then lay on the shoulders of the magazine’s creative team to whittle down these potential logos to just eight.

“We gave a lot of consideration to the ideas behind the designs, but we also thought about what would work best with our format, about the group as a whole — we wanted visual and conceptual variety — and, of course, about the aesthetics,” art director Gail Bichler said.

Four different covers were selected for the issue which would be printed and then distributed randomly. (The remaining four were shown inside the magazine). Four neighbouring households could receive four different covers of the magazine.

Inside the magazine

The accompanying artwork for the cover story was initially going to be about a day in the life of a man whose day brings him into contact with each of the 32 inventions. However, focusing on just one character proved to be too difficult, so each creation received its own design. Thirty-two mini-stories had to be linked together. Different coloured pages were used throughout the feature to represent how light changes during the day.

Adobe illustrator was used to create the graphics in “perfect form” i.e. circles were used to create perfect curves and angles were kept at either 45 or 90 degrees.

The playground monster seen on one of the four final covers (lead image for this post) originally began life as a sketched dinosaur, but this evolved into the crocodile that was to appear inside the mag. People were much more enthusiastic about the crocodile, so he received a promotion as a cover model and dinosaur sadly became extinct.

The NYTimes magazine blog goes into further detail, and if you have a few minutes, makes for a great read.

Jeffrey Tobias

About Jeffrey Tobias

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well-known startups.

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Managing Director, The Strategy Group

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well known startups. Jeffrey’s corporate background includes leading global innovation strategy at Cisco, working with large corporates such as Adobe, Westpac, Telstra, Woolworths, and Perpetual.

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