Childbot: The Zine Layout

My freshman and sophomore year of college afforded me lots of spare time with my friends. I found myself throwing lots of layout ideas around and had no real outlet for them. On staff at the ampersand, I didn’t have many assignments and had yet to grasp my role as a layout designer.

I started making mock layouts for fun. I made a zine called “Mo Fo” and I put together looks for it. My friend Drew had a writing assignment for a media class and I took advantage of the situation. I immediately got to work on putting the layout together.

childbotchildbot2spreadnowspreadnow2First pagechildbot2

First pagechildbot2
Click on the thumbnail to open the pdf.

This layout has elements that reflect my struggle to make my own style. I really wanted to play with the rules and find out what could and what couldn’t work. I’m going to go over what does and doesn’t work, including:

  • fractured image
  • bastard rule
  • copy alignment
  • font choice

The fractured image constructed of squares isn’t a bad idea. However, I didn’t know about grids in InDesign. I actually didn’t come across grids until a few months ago when I started learning about baseline grids and lining up elements. Imagine how embarrassed I was when I found out how easy they were to manage. Better grids would have made this super slick.

To turn on your grids, turn on mock-up view (press w on a mac while having nothing selected), then go to view > grids & guides > show document grid. To have your lines snap to the grid, turn on snap to document grid.

Now let’s talk about that sea of copy. I would question the motives of any fledgeling designer who suggested such an arrangement. So, why did I do it? My favorite magazine at the time was NYLON. Dat bastard rule really drives me nuts. I was trying to figure out bastard rule. I succeeded in finding out how bastard rule doesn’t work.

Bastard rule is when not all of the paragraphs line up elegantly in a one-column all, two-column all, or three-column all fashion. Imagine having two arrangements of one-column and then out of nowhere, a third arrangement spans two columns and obstructs into one of the other implied columns.

What am I going to say about font choice? That Helvetica Neue is baa-ad? Well, kind of. My freshman-junior year was dominated by my desire to Helvetica anything and everything. Helvetica isn’t for every situation. For brand building, stay away from it! Now I’m working on using new fonts.

Design solution

Click on the thumbnails to open the pdfs.

I ran through two new layouts earlier, trying to come up with ways to address the goals I wanted to achieve initially. The first one is my first reaction, a ribbon oriented piece that plays with whitespace on the copy page. The second one is my approach to the problems from the original piece.

Which would you prefer to print? What do you think about these layouts? Am I totally wrong about Helvetica? Leave a comment below.


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