James Nesbitt discusses Arcade magazine

For this year’s Regional Design Annual, Print asked each designer a few questions about the winning work that was published in the magazine. Seattle-based designer James Nesbitt gave some insight into his work for Arcade, a magazine published by the Northwest Architectural League.
 
 
Cover from Arcade magazine. DESIGN FIRMS: James Nesbitt Design + Cdesign, Seattle; DESIGNERS/ILLUSTRATORS: James D. Nesbitt, Stephanie J. Cooper; CLIENT: Kelly Walker (Arcade).

 

What’s your favorite thing about being a designer in Seattle?


We love the climate and temperament of the people. It’s a city unlike any other.

What was the single greatest challenge or obstacle in making this piece, and how did you overcome it?
From the beginning, we recognized that our styles were very different from each other. However, we considered this our strength and fully exploited it. With each successive issue, we also learned how to turn production limitations into design opportunities, learning from what worked and what didn’t. It allowed us to focus on delivering content-based clarity of form. It was very satisfying to meet those challenges and gain so much from the process.

What’s the backstory behind the typeface you used?
With less than a week before it was due to the printer, we changed the entire design to be more open and versatile while employing Neutraface, a very expressive sans-serif. Talk about an about-face. We also hid as many little ah-ha’s within the magazines as possible, the most obvious being the embroidered logotype on the cover of the fashion issue.
 
Did your client give you a lot of leeway with the brief?
Although unrestricted in design, we always kept the reader in mind. It had to be visually lush and provocative, but also remain a fully legible, fully enjoyable experience. In addition, Arcade has such a rich history of great work, we felt compelled to push the boundaries of what was done previously, which was sometimes the printing process itself.

If you could do one thing differently in creating this design if you had it to do again, what would it be?

We would most likely roll our stipend back into the printing process and explore what we could do from that perspective.

How has the economy affected your design business?
Right now, we’re both working for larger companies rather than only relying on piece-work to get us by. There are a lot of designers out of work in Seattle, so we count ourselves among the very lucky.

Is there a certain type of design you see being done by a lot of designers in your area?
It’s difficult to say whether or not there’s a regional design “style,” but most design seems to break down into two categories: hand-illustrated or Swiss Modern-influenced. The former could be the result of Starbucks, the latter of the University of Washington’s Visual Communication Design program which produces a new wave of young designers every year in the region.

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