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Process: Alternative Press

I would be a bad Cleveland music lover if I were not aware of Alternative Press. AP (as it is more conveniently known) is a music publication that is an influential source for new music, style trends and culture. It’s a magazine that has seen consistent growth despite the decline of other competitor publications, and it reaches hundreds of thousands every day at and on social media. In my job search, I’ve been looking for places back home in CLE that allow me to do design in a music-related context–someplace like AP!

Looking at AP, both in print and on their website, I felt like I was back in 2007. Its style is reminiscent of the “emo” bands some of my classmates enjoyed around that time: Asking Alexandria, My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Black Veil Brides, etc. (If you’re having trouble picturing what I’m talking about, imagine if Hot Topic were a magazine.) I’m not a big fan of the hardcore music typically featured in AP (emo, screamo, metal, alt rock, punk), which may explain some of the disconnect, but even still the brand felt like it needed an overall update.

Some examples of your typical AP cover.

The magazine felt very cluttered and busy and rather inconsistent from one piece to the next–with the exception of the oddly squished lettermark at the top of each cover. I wanted to simplify it a bit–to make it feel more 2017 than 2007–but still allow some of that scene aesthetic and edginess to shine through. Something that really stood out to me was the history behind AP. The magazine began as a two-page, black-and-white punk rock zine and has now evolved into a huge player in music publications. Vintage zines are a cool place to look for experimental typography, textures, illustration, and collage, because they were handmade with limited resources and a ton of passion. I took this idea of collage and cool type into consideration for the rebrand, which led to a new lettermark and use of four different typefaces (I try not to go beyond two in a project).

Some vintage AP logos, which you can learn more about here.

The end result of my brand refresh for AP is certainly much cleaner than their existing design work. However, I think this constraint allows for a better balance between type/written content and the rather extravagant photography typically used in the magazine. Additionally, the limited color palette and typefaces encourage more experimentation to differentiate each piece, yet retain a sense of consistency for the brand from one page to the next (and from issue to issue). You can see my complete Alternative Press refresh on Behance, and be sure to follow me to see whatever I design next.

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