When Lanny Friedlander assembled the first issues of Reason in a bedroom in his mother's house in 1968, he cobbled together magazines using Letraset press type, an IBM compositor typewriter, and a mimeograph machine. Subscription labels were hand-addressed. His budget was laughably small, but his choices were bold: The now-celebrated font Helvetica adorned the cover, and the look was heavily influenced by the spare, ultra-modern International Typographic Style. The result: A magazine that looked like it had been delivered via time machine.
Following in Friedlander's footsteps, we did the work in-house this time around, too, led by Art Director Joanna Andreasson. The choice to DIY our new look means that the design can continue to evolve as our needs change (and in response to your feedback!), and that Andreasson will be on hand as we improve the look and feel of other Reason properties as well.
As I explain in the new issue:
Our task, in redesigning Reason, was easier than Friedlander's in many ways. Every hour of every day, millions of robots scramble to assemble and label photos and images for us to choose from. Contacting photographers, artists, and writers in Johannesburg or Bangkok is only a moment's work. When we set out to choose our new typeface, Art Director Joanna Andreasson was afloat in a sea of typographic options.
Necessity is the mother of invention, but abundance can be too. In a world where nearly everyone was hungry all the time, Henry VIII's girth (and gout) were status symbols. But when everyone can feast on overstuffed steak burritos, the rich stay thin. For most of history, the only thing scarcer than printed matter was educated, free people with enough leisure time to fill those pricey pages. Reason is a child of plenty, and one response to profusion is to experiment with empty space. Not every inch of every page needs to be dense with data when printing is cheap and information is everywhere. Instead, the goal becomes finding ways to make the consumption of that novel information pleasing and memorable.
On a practical level, in the print mag we've added new columnists and created perches for some of Reason's favorite writers: Former editor Virginia Postrel is returning to our pages with a history-focused column, plus economist Deirdre McCloskey, Free-Range Kids founder Lenore Skenazy, and Contributing Editor J.D. Tuccille. The redesign will also showcase more frequent contributions from our resident legal eagle Damon Root and drug policy aficionado Jacob Sullum, alongside new criminal justice reporter C.J. Ciaramella. We're moving away from the day-to-day news covered so ably here at reason.com and into content with a bit more staying power, appropriate for dead tree.