Masters / Making a mini magazine

Hey pals, it’s been a while. I wish I had more of an excuse for my absence, but essentially, my MA is ruling my life and the majority of my free time has either been spent binging Peaky Blinders or tackling my Goodreads 2019 challenge. Add to that list a heck ton of sleep, and that’s essentially all I’ve been doing since Christmas.

Anyway, back to where we left off. When I last wrote, I was regaling you all with tales of my voxpop assignment which left me crying and shaking on the streets of Cardiff — gotta love a bit of melodrama, haven’t you? Since that dreaded deadline, my first semester of MA life became quite busy with a brand new project. In small groups, we were tasked to create our very own ‘mini mag’, come up with and write content, produce them via InDesign and launch them with a news story by the end of term.

I was a bit concerned as I’d spent a good part of four years working off the same Redbrick templates with help from my friends, mainly moving grey lines around, and therefore felt like my InDesign skills were a tad limited.

However, I got on really well with my group — Corrie, Kate and Andrew — and after a few days of coming up with various ideas, we decided to create a magazine which would focus on the lesser heard voices of Cardiff. Those voices could be campaigners, discriminated groups, or even just ordinary people on the street who may have an opinion on something they may not have otherwise told someone.

The Diff.Voices team taking a quick coffee break! (This happened quite a lot)

The difficulty with design

The process was… challenging. Let’s just say that. Designing something from scratch is difficult for me, but the content was much easier: we quickly set up interviews with pro-Welsh independent voices, spoke to a member of the LGBTQ+ community for a feature, as well as various campaign groups for a piece on getting your voice heard. We were off! However, trying to get those voices on the page without making it the wordiest, most boring-looking magazine in the world was testing.

Our class had help from Harriet Jones, who has worked on publications such as Fabulous. Basically, she knows her design craft and she knows it well. She was constantly on hand to help us work out what was wrong with our magazine: first, it was our choice of fonts. Then, the design itself needed more personality. Did we need to change our colours? Did we need to rearrange how we’d designed our double page spread? The list became endless but as frustrating as it sometimes seemed, it definitely made the magazine far stronger.

The worst part of the whole process, for me at least, was the final hand-in of the print product. You’ve guessed it: your gal had another panic attack due to stress. What a surprise. We’d been working on the same computers constantly in the week leading up to hand-in, and they were getting a bit slow and freezing every few minutes. As the deadline loomed, my hands went cold and numb, I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t calm down (and our teacher playing the theme from Countdown really didn’t help matters). We were almost there — our content was subbed, our design was 95% there, it was essentially ready to print. Our tech just didn’t want to cooperate.

The noticeboards outside MagLab were covered in so many different iterations of page designs and content ideas… these were some pages and how they looked about a week before going to print!

Thank God for that!

Once it was handed in, I have to say, I’ve never been so happy to wait an inordinate amount of time for a celebratory cocktail. We’d bloody earned it, and not just my group, but every single person in that classroom. While I’ve since worked in a group creating an eight-page dummy issue of a magazine in less than a fortnight, at the time, our month and a half working on Diff.Voices was perhaps the most stressed I’ve been a while (discounting my dissertation, of course).

There were times working on the magazine where I wanted to give up completely. We had issues with social media, with certain trolls sending death threats to Corrie, and changing up the design felt impossible at times. Working around other groups who seemed to be getting things right far quicker, whether that was their concept or their design, was really daunting and I had to remind myself that it would all work out in the end. Given how stressed I get so quickly, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise at all…

Our group and magazine won our class award for ‘best journey’, which seemed deserved considering how far our design had come from those first few weeks of us not really knowing what we were doing. And we came away with a fairly decent mark which no-one can complain about, right? Just don’t expect me to want to work on a one-shot magazine anytime soon, at least not in the MagLab.

If you fancy giving the magazine a look/read/etc, go crazy!

If you liked this post, let me know as I’ll happily write more about what I’m up to during my Masters and what kind of things I’m doing as part of my qualification. Give my ‘profesh’ Facebook page a like, drop me an email or just shoot me a message on any social media platform we may be connected on (@whatkirstiedid).

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