Posts Tagged ‘LeftLion’

LeftLion Issue 35

Monday, June 14th, 2010

LeftLion issue35 cover

What? There’s a football World Cup going on in South Africa? Well, they kept that one quiet… Yes, it’s that time again, regular as a leap year, when half the world goes football crazy, not least the media. The latest issue of LeftLion magazine manages to avoid the hype and deliver its usual gamut of interviews with local and national cultural talent. The footy still gets a nod though, in the form of this great cover image by Jason and Simon at Seismik design studio - a pastiche of the famous ‘66 photo of Bobby Moore lifting the trophy, with Bobby being replaced by Brian Clough and surrounded by other Notts football legends. There’s a nice grubby, hand-drawn texture to it which they’ve carried through onto the wallchart centrespread they also did for the mag. Nice work!

Download an online copy here (link is in comments section).

New Work: World Cup T-shirts

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

3 lions t-shirt

With the World Cup just around the corner, LeftLion have re-issued the limited edition t-shirts I designed for them the last time the world got temporarily obsessed with kicking a ball around a field. The design pays homage to the iconic original England 3 lions motif, replacing the three traditional lions with a triple rendering of Nottingham’s stone left lion statue in its market square. The ‘England’ text at the top of the crest has been replaced with ‘Nottingham’ so you know where these wonderful garments come from. Here’s a detail of the design…

3 lions england/nottingham badge

The t-shirts are avilable in white as well as the red shown here. Girls’ slim-fit tees are on sale as well as standard men’s fit, all available from here.

They have been lovingly handprinted by local good folks Regenerate and look amazing - the print has been done with an attention to detail you just don’t get on mass-produced items. I’m told they are selling like meth-infused hotcakes, so if you fancy one for yourself, avoid disappointment and order one asap - they won’t be printing any more once they run out of stock, and with people like Ziggy Marley (below) sporting them, I don’t think it will take too long for these to shift.

Ziggy Marley 3 lions shirt

LeftLion Issue 34

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

LeftLion 34 cover

Admittedly, I’m a week slow in posting this, but issue 34 of LeftLion magazine is out on the streets of Nottingham and available for mail order or download from their website. To coincide with the release of a certain film, this issue is a Robin Hood special edition, packed full of articles examining the enduring legend of the hooded man.

The cover image (seen above) was taken by our photo editor, Dom Henry, based on the idea of ‘if Robin and his merry men were still around today, what would they be doing?’. The answer, it seems, is that they would be sat around texting, stuffing their faces on fatty snacks and playing Nintendo Wii. So much for modern culture. 

The guy stood centre of frame with the leather cap is Ade Andrews - Nottingham’s official current-day Robin (not that he actually, y’know, robs people or anything). Working with the likes of Experience Nottinghamshire, Ade has an ambassadorial role within the city, giving visiting journalists city tours and appearing at major events as part of a tourist attraction troupe. And, of course, taking time out to play a little virtual archery with the local media.

See more of Dom Henry’s photography here.

LeftLion Issue 33

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

LeftLion issue 33 cover

The latest issue of LeftLion magazine is out now, featuring some wonderful cover artwork by Jeffrey Bowman, aka Mr Bowlegs. Jeff is a freelance illustrator and the go to man if you require abstractly composed drawings with a heavy dose of happiness injected into them.

The mag contains the usual mix of interviews, news and events listings, and features an interesting piece on cagefighting which is well worth checking out; if you’ve ever wondered what goes on in the heads of people who willingly take part in this sort of thing, this is your chance to find out. Downloadable PDFs and mail order copies are available here.

New Work: LeftLion T-shirts

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

LeftLion t-shirt

A couple of years ago I designed some t-shirts for LeftLion based around the idea of urban development and LeftLion’s role in the city. They sold out in a matter of weeks. Back by popular demand after a long wait, the second edition prints are now on sale, available in any colour scheme as long as it’s white on black, to misquote Henry Ford.

Printed by Regenerate Clothing in association with Shop, they were looking mighty fine as modelled by the guy I saw wearing one in a Sherwood pub while I was enjoying some bangers and mash the other day. Start the new decade in style and celebrate the growth of LeftLion and it’s host city by bagging yourself one of these limited edition t-shirts. Limited stock available here.

LeftLion Issue 32

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

LeftLion issue 32 cover

So, the end of the decade is upon us - the Noughties are over! With this in mind, the latest issue of LeftLion magazine takes a long hard look at the first ten years of the 21st century and the cultural nuggets it has spewed forth. After handing over cover duties on the previous issue to Rob White, this time it was back to me to produce the artwork for our first cover since winning the Nottingham Creative Business Writing & Publishing award in October.

We decided that a great way to represent the multitude of people, events and cultural milestones the decade will be remembered for was to nick someone else’s idea parody the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper cover, which did the same thing for the sixties. Hey, if it’s good enough for Peter Blake and the biggest band of all time, then it’s probably good enough for us too, right?

As well as cutting out all the ‘celebs’ who grace the cover (ranging from global leaders to local icons and interviewees), I will admit to cutting corners with the bottom of the image; I had originally intended to buy some flowers arrange and photograph to make up the letters for ‘Noughty Notts’ on the grass, as per the original album artwork. This idea was soon modified to the more realistic solution of drawing the floral lettering; however, a broken scanner and looming deadline meant the idea got watered down to using a font made from a flowery pattern.

To be honest, keeping it simple possibly works in the cover’s favour, keeping the clutter and fuss down, but I am a sucker for such extra little details. One thing I will definitely not be missing, though, is Photoshop’s pen tool, which I will now be doing my best to avoid for the next few weeks after becoming painfully familiar with it over the course of producing this cover.

A bigger version of the artwork can be seen here.

A digital PDF of the entire issue can be downloaded here.

LeftLion Issue 31

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

*UPDATE: LeftLion came top of the pile in the Writing & Publishing category of the annual Nottingham Creative Business Awards last week. Well done to everybody involved. Sights are now firmly set on winning the Creative Business of the Year award in 2010!

LeftLion issue 31 cover

Wow; has it really been two months since I last posted on this blog? I find it hard to believe, but the dateline on the last post tells me it’s true. The lack of updates recently is not because I’ve been slack; quite the opposite - I’ve been too busy to put in any time at the computer beyond clearing work and hitting deadlines. It can all get a bit much sometimes, you know, being a designer and spending many lonely hours staring at a monitor, so I let the blogging slide for a few weeks in favour of meeting deadlines and staying sane.

There was also some sunshine to enjoy and a bit of server downtime to knock my blogging rhythm, but at least I have plenty of new work to share with you over the next few weeks. Firstly, the latest edition of LeftLion magazine is out on the streets of Nottingham, so keep your eyes peeled for the latest bi-monthly installment of local cultural goodness lurking in various shops and pubs in the city. Big shout to Rob White for the cover illustration and Alan Gilby for his tidy page layouts - good work, sirs!

magazine covers montage

Also on the LeftLion tip, the previous issue featured a centrefold pullout of the covers from all 30 issues. That’s five years’ worth of cover designs on one page. It is great for me personally to be able to see all these commissions presented together - I remember every single one of them, which means my brain isn’t showing any signs of aging just yet. It is also nice to see such an array of styles used among the covers without any of them looking out of place or belonging to a different title; the LeftLion identity just seems to go from strength to strength. I hope you enjoy looking through them.

Click here to see a larger version, and feel free to download any of the individual issues here.

LeftLion Issue 29

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

LeftLion issue 29 cover

The latest edition of LeftLion hit the mean streets of Nottingham this weekend, with a cover feature on the World Twenty20 cricket tournament. The fixtures are being held at four grounds around the country this month, including Trent Bridge (which was host to Australia’s exit yesterday - sorry boys, you just couldn’t cut it, see you when you hand over the ashes…). The tournament is being broadcast around the world on satellite television and is expected to reach an audience of half a billion people!

We came up with a cover concept which depicted the difference in scale of watching a cricket match on tv and being at the real thing, aiming to encourage people to take advantage of the event happening in their own back yard (Nottingham’s a small place).

The idea we ran with was the photo you see above; a shot of two people watching cricket on tv, as if in their lounge, but set up on the pitch at Trent Bridge. I wanted to use a photograph to bring a sense of realism to the viewer’s perspective, giving the impression of being closer to the scene than illustration could have achieved. I like the way it plays with the idea of scale and proximity, reflecting the two viewpoints from which people will experience the event.

It was a pretty simple shot to set up (Trent Bridge’s marketing guy was on side), the only hiccup being having to reschedule the shoot date due to bad weather (English cricket grounds are, of course, used to having such circumstances delay proceedings, so it wasn’t too much of a problem). Second time around we got good weather with an enticing blue sky, so I set everything up on the rug at the corner of the pitch, making sure to inlcude the scoreboard, poured prop drinks for the people in the chairs and was done in about ten minutes.

The coverline in the sky seals the deal, helping make sense of the image and bringing the whole cover together. It also has a bright, colourful quality to it which makes for a nice seasonal progression for this year’s covers so far: white and stark in winter (issue 27), flowers in spring (issue 28) and green grass and blue skies for summer. I think the next issue could be due a far-out cover illustration.

(Almost) Everything I know about magazine design - part 1

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

THIS IS THE FIRST in a series of articles outlining the process I use when designing a magazine. The information in this first post is mainly aimed at newbies and is very basic, just covering setting up the document and blank page templates in InDesign (in great detail - probably way too much for anybody familiar with the program).

I’ll get into the juicy details of page design in part 2. In the meantime, this is a good introduction for anyone new to using InDesign for magazine production.

LeftLion magazine covers

*All of this information relates to the process I use when designing LeftLion magazine - a bi-monthly free magazine printed on newsprint in full-colour full-bleed tabloid supplement format. The printer spec is for the magazine to be supplied as single page PDF files, rather than spreads or any other multiple page setup (for which i would use a slightly different setup and export method, which i must write up at some point). All instructions are for setup using InDesign on a PC (the process should be roughly the same on a Mac, but dialog boxes and naming conventions may differ.

Setting up the documents

The first thing I do is setup the page templates in inDesign. For LeftLion, the page size is 280×380mm with all four page margins set at 10mm; and bleed set at 5mm on all four edges. As I like to vary the number of columns i use on the various pages within the mag, I leave the page columns setting as 1 (this just stops me having to look at unneccessary column guides while I’m working on the page). If I used a standard number of columns on all pages, I would use this number as my columns setting.

InDesign page setup dialog box

I never layout a publication on a single page template - I always work on the pages as spreads (check the ‘facing pages’ option when setting up the document in InDesign). The reader is going to to experience the layout as spreads, so it should be worked on and laid out accordingly. You get a better feel for the structure and pacing of the mag working on it that way.  It’s best not to do the full magazine one one document, though - the amount of picture links it would end up containing would make it unnecessarily slow to work with. What I do is create 3 documents - one for the front section of the magazine, which goes from the cover to the page before the centrespread.

This is a convenient place to split the layout documents up, as the centrespread will be laid out as one landscape document, which requires its own double-width template (560×380mm). The third document is basically a copy of the front document, but is used for the back half of the magazine. You can open your blank front section document and save a copy of it as the back section layout document, but before doing that, it is worth adding common elements such as extra margin guides, page numbers etc. to the front document so that they are included in the back section template when you save it as a copy.

LeftLion page footer
It is good practice to leave more space as the bottom of the page than at the top - it stops the content looking like it is falling of the page and provides space to include page numbers. I place a horizontal ruler guide 15mm from the bottom of the page and use this to align the bottom of my body text or other content to. Then I add page numbers to the bottom outer corners of the pages, aligned flush with the vertical margin (10mm in from the outer edge, so it lines up with the content above) and flush beneath the bottom margin, which gives it 5mm breathing space from the content above.

Once I’ve done this, I’ll save a copy of the front template as the back template (as mentioned above) and change the page numbers. I find it useful to go into the numbering and section options menu of the back template document and set the page numbers to start from the same page number as the back section (ie. if I am producing a 32 page magazine, the first page of the back half will be page 18, so i would set the back section document to begin from page 18). This way, the document mirrors the page numbers of the magazine and makes it easier to jump to the correct page in the document using inDesign’s page selection buttons at the bottom left of screen.

InDesign sections and numbering dialog

I also put the same footer margin on the centrespread and paste the page numbers on from one of the previous documents.

Now I have three files for the whole magazine, ready to have content placed on them and laid out - something I’ll cover in part 2 of this series next week, which will be much more exciting, I promise.

LeftLion Issue 28

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009


ISSUE 28 of LeftLion magazine is currently in the hands of the printers and due to hit the streets on Friday 27th March. This is my first issue operating solely as Art Director, with our new designer, Tom Wingrove, taking over page design duties. After the initial editorial and planning meetings, we agreed on the visual ideas for each page and then I left him pretty much to his own devices, offering only minimal advice beyond the necessary technical info.

This was partly due to a hectic personal schedule, but also to see what he did of his own accord without too much input from me. He has done a grand job, designing the mag with a very different personal style to my own. For one, I am big lover of The Grid and white space, using these as the basis for (almost) all my page layouts, designing through the subtleties of harmony, balance, restricted colour palettes and careful font choices; letting the content take precedent.

This issue shows a departure from this approach, with denser, much more varied layouts and use of images. It will be interesting to see in print and I’m also intrigued to see what our readers make of the new look. Ironically, the cover is one of the simplest and cleanest we have ever produced, which stands in contrast to the busy look of the interior pages.

The cover boasts an image of a record-wreath retirement present, styled by Rikki Marr, as a tribute to one of England’s greatest independent records shops, Selectadisc, which is closing its Nottingham branch after 43 years of business. Fact fans take note: the shop began as a market stall before expanding to become a real brick-walls-and-door shop with a branch in London which was immortalised on the cover of Oasis’ LP, What’s the Story, Morning Glory.

This cover is the second in sucession which uses a lot of white space, something we haven’t done traditonally, but I think we were totally right to on both occasions.  I can’t imagine the wreath on this cover having the same stark impact if it sat on a coloured background. Besides, despite what some people say, I think white space will always have a place in magazine design, as it allows the content to breathe on the page in such an inimitable way.