running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Creating a real DIN with the Small Presses

Thursday, 3 June 2010

One of the most ambitious projects from my final year HND group comes from Icelander Gunnar Ofeigsson, who has designed (and is about to publish) a new 30-page poetry magazine.

DIN harks back to the heyday of the Scottish small presses - when titles like West Coast Magazine, Northwords, Cutting Teeth and Rebel Inc brought to critical attention writers such as Alasdair Gray, James Kelman, A.L. Kennedy, Irvine Welsh, Janice Galloway and Alan Warner.

In his own words, Gunner states that the concept for DIN emerged "with the realisation that the design of literary magazines had become so secondary to the content that the relationship between layout, image and text completely lacked any visual cohesion. There wasn't the vibrant interactive experience that contemporary readers are looking for".

Gunner describes his concept, which mixes murky black and white photography with a variety of typefaces and large tracts of whitespace, as 'apocalyptic lo-fi 1970's'.

The term is inspired by the visual power of Glasgow's urban decay, and by the themes and motifs of industrial and post-rock music.

The magazine is called DIN - a reference both to the German sans serif typeface DIN (originated by the standards institute Deutsches Institut für Normung, which gave us the A-sizings for print pages) and 'din' meaning a loud, chaotic noise.

DIN features original, previously unpublished poems by some fairly high profile Scottish poets, including Tom Pow and Joy Hendry.

The doublepage spreads shown here illustrate how well Gunnar has juxtaposed photography with type in ambitious layouts, producing an edgy, retro feel with a minimal colour palette.

One spread in particular (which I haven't shown here) is simply a doublepage of pure black. Many of the others feature typography bleeding off the page, and the poetry is presented exactly as submitted by the authors.

The whole magazine was exhibited at our recent Industry Night, and the feedback from all quarters has been fantastic. Gunnar graduates from HND this summer and has a place at Glasgow School of Art where he plans to complete a degree in Graphic Design.

Front Cover and contents

Spread 1

Spread 2

Spread 3

Spread 4
Images Copyright DIN 2010, used with kind permission.

DIN #1 is edited by Robin Matthew Jones, and will be published in July.