True/False on the brain

Critique: True/False 

True/False hit me like a ton of bricks this weekend. I’m working with the festival this year, so I spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday  arranging schedules for the guest speakers who will be coming in for the event. On top of that, I had a slew of True/False ideas to put down on paper. Well, at least that’s how it ended up. It didn’t start off that way.

I didn’t have too many ideas about cover art that incorporated a photo shoot, which is what we were told the editorial team was leaning toward. I was most drawn to the  theme of “True/False and other drugs,” which for me could translate to a “Your brain on True/False” concept. This quickly reminded me of those old anti-drug PSA’s, and thus I came up with the following (DISCLAIMER: Choppy Photoshopping ahead):

TFCover Drugs

I showed it to a few people who immediately got the connection, but I wasn’t sure if its ’80s-era reference was too dated. The design originally didn’t have any kind of background, so I attempted to add a dash of color, but I don’t think it particularly works with the layout. I might incorporate more of the circular shapes to give the background continuity with the focus of the visual. Maybe less red and more yellow/orange. I’m also not sold on the typography, which I’m still working on better understanding and applying.

Another theme that the editors suggested that I absolutely love (I do like a good pun) is “Doc Dynasty.” From this, I instantly thought of the Queue Queens that True/False is known for, among other things, and the personality that they bring to the quirkiness of the fest. Just from getting to know the fest over the years, I decided that featuring a few Queens like Ron and Carolyn might help with recognition on a magazine cover. Planning-wise, this option would be pretty straight-forward. Although I didn’t end up expanding this one, for the splash page and feature spread I would have tried to emulate a tapestry-look, which would play up the “dynasty” effect and emphasize how everyone working on the fest is connected to one another.

TFCover Dynasty

However, the concept that I decided to go with in creating the splash page and feature spread went a different route. I was thinking about what kind of pop culture references I could evoke in my design after watching the ICONS video Breanna posted on her blog last week. What movie, song, current event, campaign or TV show could communicate ideas of addiction, obsession, transformation, power, etc? Then bam, it hit me:

TFCover BB

This concept allowed me to work in the theme on several levels. In terms of photos, the cover would be good for instant recognition by featuring the festival creators. I like the idea of featuring Ragtag in the background, since it’s so integral to the film fest. The Breaking Bad reference isn’t too dated, and it can be played out in both visuals and typography.

I decided to take this concept and expand it to a splash page and feature spread.

For the splash page, I was thinking of a clean studio shoot with a mixture of lab beakers and film reels to mix the two concepts of True/False and Breaking Bad. I was going for a “behind the scenes” vibe through this image, like the fest is being concocted in the depths of a seedy lab or something.


I wanted to continue the lab setting and film images in the spread, but continuing the red/black/white color scheme was getting old. A lot of the promotional work that True/False is putting on to match its “Magic Realism” theme this year has warm, orange hues in it, so I decided to give that a shot for the spread.

This was definitely the most challenging to work with since we only had skeletons of story ideas writers are working on, and not the text itself. After seeing some of the drafts, I can better visualize how I would arrange them on the page. But what I did come up with is pretty general.

You can’t miss: Sharing the #journolove

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, Media Bistro’s 10,000 words posted its 2014 edition of Valentines for Journalists. Love Feb. 14 or hate it, you’ve got to hand it to the creators of these designs for some stellar pun-age. Although some of the designs are a little on the rough side, there are a few that are quite nice aesthetically. And let’s be honest — it’s the message that counts. They’ve also come up with journalism-related Valentines for 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009.

Valentines for Journalists

You can’t miss: More on portfolios

As timing would have it, the new design blog I’ll be following throughout the semester, Creative Bloq, had a nice post about 7 Ways to Make Your Portfolio Sing. I’ve only ever put together a portfolio of my writing and editing clips, but this quick rundown fits both design and editorial facets.

I really like two points in particular that I had never really considered when going through my own work: “think of it like a meal,” and “make it tell a story.” When putting our work together to represent ourselves to another person through portfolio, of course we want to show off our best work. But providing a variety of options that show off your range is a different challenge, especially if you’re used to a particular style of work.

What’s important here is to take a step back and look at your work as a whole, picking out parts that complement each other and taking away examples that might be too repetitive. Flipping through the portfolio examples yesterday, a lot of them showed this kind of variety, and the platform of the portfolio itself would set the applicant apart.

Photo inspiration: V for Vendetta

I’ve never really been much of a comic book person, much to my boyfriend’s dismay. But for my sociology class this semester about culture and mass media, we were assigned to read V for Vendetta. The graphic novel first came out in the ’80s, so the version I have has some additional information about David Lloyd’s processes and their own story behind the vigilante anti-hero. Not only are the illustrations in within the comic impressive (in the epilogue, a few of the illustrations are shown in large scale and demonstrate the detail that goes into them), but it’s also fun to flip through some of the team of artists’ original sketches of the characters. For what I didn’t expect to be my cup of tea, it’s a pretty fascinating read for the story and visuals.

V for Vendetta


7 thoughts on “True/False on the brain

  1. Thanks for posting about how to improve our portfolio! I’m definitely going to be taking that advice to improve my stuff. Also love the V for Vendetta inspiration photo. I went through a graphic novel loving phase in high school… and seeing your photo makes me want to go and check them out again!

  2. Thanks for sharing that link about portfolios. I know I’ll actually look at it because of these fun graphics! And I’ve never heard of Journalism Valentines but I’m laughing already… And I’ve seen the movie V for Vendetta several times, but it took me a while before I really appreciated it and how strange it really is. I think I would enjoy flipping through that book and I love the rough illustration, really beautiful!

  3. So I don’t watch Breaking Bad, and I feel like the only person on the planet who doesn’t, but I still really like that concept! It seems like there is a lot of versatility and opportunity to bring it into different spreads.

  4. You did a lot of brain storming for your T/F ideas. Even before you mentioned the Breaking Bad inspiration that is what your final design made me think of it. I really like it. It’s a different an interesting take on T/F. I’m probably out of the loop, but I had never seen journalism Valentines before. Very clever!

  5. I actually like the red behind the eggs and pans in the first cover. I always hope to better utilize the textures but never succeed. So I think it is actually a pretty good try. And the lab idea was really interesting. I wonder how did you make the smoke? I really want to learn that!

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