25th January, 2011

The New Adventures paper

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.

The paper
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.

A note about our name

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 more in a future post.

The cover

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.

New Adventures homage
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 computers, and actually creating some breathing space; somewhere to think, consider, and 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 by me 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 the 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 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.

The contributions

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.

Page spreads
Selected pages from the paper.

The process

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 this thing.

Grab a copy

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.

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