25th January 2011
Following on from New Adventures, which finally happened last week, I want to write a series of short posts about the nuts and bolts. Firstly, I’d like to explain a little about the name, the newspaper, and the inspiration for the cover artwork.
For months, I had been itching to tell everyone about this fantastic bit of print we were putting together for the New Adventures in Web Design event.
Figure 1: The paper, photographed by Jon Tan.
Designed with Joff+Ollie, and printed by The Guardian, “the paper” is something we’re really proud of. In the last few days, I’ve received a few questions about our name, and that newspaper cover, so let me fill you in.
So, the name New Adventures in Web Design was inspired by the 1996 album from REM called New Adventures in Hi-Fi, as numerous smart people have observed. I liked this title as it instantly suggested a new departure, a different way of thinking, a break from the standard, and (with regard to the web) the community collectively taking a new direction. It also felt completely different to your typical conference title.
The name (as we have adapted it) actually breaks down into three composite parts, so it’s flexible for all kinds of future events and I’ll explain that in a subsequent post.
I like REM, but mostly their early albums, and wouldn’t say I’m a big fan as a whole, although something about their 1996 New Adventures in Hi-Fi album cover always struck a chord with me. Anyway, when Ollie and I began putting the paper together, we were stuck for a cover. Now, I’d been thinking about this album artwork for a while, and as I have a stack of somewhat unexciting landscape photos at my disposal, we decided to try a homage to the New Adventures album cover.
Figure 2: The REM artwork, and our little homage.
Why? Well, it wasn’t just a homage. For me, the spirit of New Adventures in Web Design is all about taking a step away from technology and bloody computers, and actually creating some breathing space — somewhere to think, consider, break free from the day-to-day minutiae of what we do. By simply presenting a photograph of an unknown place (it’s actually near the Hope Valley in Derbyshire, taken in 1998) we hoped to sum up this moment of reflection visually.
The landscape photos are (like the REM cover) purposefully uninspiring. This is not a romantic notion of landscape (although the clouds are nice and fluffy). We specifically selected images that are just pure wilderness. No grand mountains, no landmarks to draw the eye. No, it’s purely a place free of distraction in which to to think, to pause, to be liberated. That’s the idea anyway, and we make use of this metaphor in several pages within the paper too.
As you may know, the paper obviously covers essential conference-related info, but also nine specially commissioned contributions. The brief I gave the contributors was simple: you each have a page to share your message regarding design. That’s it.
The result was a collection of really interesting opinions. So, huge thanks to Frank Chimero, Trent Walton, Greg Wood, Mark Boulton, Brendan Dawes, Jon Tan, The Standardistas, James Willock, and Jason Cale. Note that Trent has written about his contribution.
Figure 3: Selected pages from the paper.
There is just too much to explain really, so let me just say that I will be forever indebted to my best mate Oliver Wood (one half of Joff+Ollie) who used his considerable experience in producing brilliant books, brochures, newspapers and more to full effect here. As well as devising all the New Adventures identity material and concepts, he worked tirelessly to make this paper work.
Aside from the countless hours he put in over a hot InDesign, he and I also sweated a lot of details, ensuring the content flowed, that every spread was interesting, and that the thing was consistent in terms of styling and typesetting. I learned a huge amount from Ollie on this, and can’t wait to do it all over again. Not yet though, my friend! Massive credit also to Relly Annett-Baker who kindly sub-edited the ass off this thing.
For the full specifications, to find out more, and to buy a copy, simply head over to the NA site and order yours now. It’s only £1.50 for the PDF, and from £4 to have a printed copy shipped to your door. We love it, and we hope you will too. Let us know what you think of it, and if you’d want more in the future.
Simon, this paper is the most beautiful momento of the #naconf for me and it is a masterpiece, almost like a piece of evidence for the amount of care, consideration and inspiration you have poured into every little detail about the conference.
On its own - it is a brilliant read, beautifully put together with amazing content. Would I want more in future? - Without a doubt!
Well done again on the success, I thoroughly enjoyed myself (even although I didn’t ‘get’ a couple of talks).
There’s been much in the way of review of the conference but very little (that I’ve seen) in the way of feedback about the paper. One of the articles within resonated with me and it was something we touched on very briefly in Leiden at EECI.
Hopefully I’ll get some time to elaborate on my thought before it becomes yesterday’s news.
Nice to see how much effort went into the production, don’t think there were many disappointed.
Great read, great conference, great man (@colly)
I luckily picked one up for FREE at New Adventures (thanking you) but for £1.50 its an absolute bargain, beautifully designed and full of wise words.
I’ll be back for the 2nd edition next year.
I love the homage, but I guess I don’t find either cover to be (purposefully or not) uninspiring. The REM record is largely affected by travel, distance, movement, and place — it was recorded on the road — and the cover portrays those concepts exactly, particularly with the slight blur suggesting that it was taken from the window of a moving vehicle. It is also a landscape devoid of identity, which hints at the mental confusion and awe induced by travel. In that respect I think that cover is evocative both of the album’s content and the manner in which it was created.
Your cover is also evocative, but whether you intended it or not, it is surely romantic! We web workers spend countless hours in cubes, offices, and basements, staring at screens — and often in cities far from any pastoral views. Your unfettered landscape could not be further from our typical workday interactions. I read the cover like, “Look! Here’s the start of a great adventure” in a traditional, outdoorsy, manly way. It certainly shares a style and elements with the REM cover, but its takeaway feels really different.
# Simon Collison responded on 25th January 2011 with...
Jonas: Great response, thank you. I dug around trying to find more info about the album cover, but failed. Ultimately, I interpreted it my way I guess — I placed my own ideas on its meaning. I agree that the end result is different in both cases, and I’m pleased with that. I also always loved those kinds of photos taken from moving vehicles.
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