Captain Jakk Media
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Captain Jakk Media

Captains Log #3: Distorted Sound Magazine

Among my other roles and responsibilities, I have somehow found myself as the Head of Design for an independent metal music magazine for the past 8 months…

Distorted Sound was founded by a Mr James Weaver, a graduate of Music Journalism from Staffordshire University. I first started working for the magazine as a photographer when I saw the opportunity written up on Facebook, after which I became a semi-regular contributor. Fast forward a year and a half and with the sudden resignation of the magazines Designer at the time, the call went out and without really thinking about it, I blindly volunteered myself.

Save for a brief 3 month optional module, I was practically completely new to the realms of magazine design and the associated software Adobe InDesign, and with only a basic history of designing amateur posters and flyers, I was quite shocked and surprised when I suddenly had an 80 page magazine that needed to be designed within a window of about 3 or 4 days… Each and every month.

A standard setup I created for the review pages, to bring some cohesion and continuity to them each month.

Luckily, having been thrown it at the deep end I was more or less forced to adapt and learn the basics of InDesign, the basics of the Magazine’s own aesthetic and some pretty standard ‘Do’s & Don’t’s’ for magazine design, at least as far as Distorted Sound goes. Among the most important for me are as follows:

  • DO — If necessary, choose legibility over aesthetic.
  • DO — Use grid lines and markers.
  • DO — Ensure a consistent font palette.
  • DO — Appreciate white space.
  • DO — Know your audience well.
  • DO NOT — Hyphenate body text, titles, subtitles or quotes.
  • DO NOT— Use font styles labelled “Free For Personal Use.”
  • DO NOT — Use images other than those provided in Press Packs.
  • DO NOT — Oversaturate a page with different font styles.
  • DO NOT — Leave typographical ‘widows’ or ‘orphans’.
An example of typographic widows and orphans.

In my time as Head of Design for Distorted Sound, thing have more or less stayed the same — meaning each month I sit down and I design the cover, the feature spreads, the review sections and everything else. Every now and then, however, I get to play around with some different content! Festival season at the end of the summer provided me with plenty of opportunity to try other things.

Festival season saw the magazine drop its number of band features in favour of the more lucrative festival features.

In all honesty, calling myself the ‘Head of Design’ is actually a bit of a stretch, for I’m the only one in the Design department… and being the only one designing each month has been quite a challenge at times, but I believe it is precisely because of that challenge that I have flourished, a less dramatic baptism in fire!

In actuality, my sudden pursuit of a career in design was borne out of my work for Distorted. As mentioned earlier, I’d only scaled the edge of the design world up until that point, doing little things for my own personal pleasure or as a favour to someone else. Since then, the direction and trajectory of my career has taken a complete U-turn. One might even say W-T-F-turn considering the utter abruptness with which this all came about.

That’s life though, I suppose. At the time of your reading, it’s quite possible that I’ll be in training to become a Marine Biologist. Or a Seeing-Eye Dog.

Captain Jakk xo

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