If you’re not yet familiar with Eye Magazine, I’m afraid to say you are, indeed, missing out. The latest issue has a heavy focus on typography, featuring articles on great names in the type world such as Nadine Chahine of Monotype and Mark van Wageningen of the foundry Novo Typo. But this isn’t the main reason I wanted to feature this article, which focuses solely on a fantastic aspect of its design: its cover. Or, to be fair, its covers, namely all 8000 of them:
Thanks to digital print technology and MuirMcNeil’s typography, no two covers of the magazine’s 8000 copies are the same.
This is a fantastic interview with the people responsible of achieving such a feat, as each cover was generated by an algorithm which followed a very interesting and aesthetically pleasing mosaic generating algorithm to ensure some degree of similarity, but also uniqueness.
Simon Esterson: It was really about the technology. We had seen the Mosaic software extension available for the Indigo digital press, and it seemed exactly the right combination for MuirMcNeil. Letting a machine almost make the design decisions for you within a set of parameters.
It is an incredible feat, as each cover is as random as it is beautiful. However, how to you ensure that this can be the case?
We’ve got a few test sheets that were rejected, which is interesting. They talked about this at our recent Type Tuesday event. There is a huge number of possibilities with Mosaic, so part of what they did was work to reduce the number of possibilities. There was one particular idea that had something like two million different possible outcomes, so Hamish and Paul were very interested in restrictions. They wanted to produce something that is both ever-changing and remarkably consistent.
It’s also fascinating to know how each new issue got a brand new font, which I didn’t know about. Often, the designers even go about using a typeface which is so new it still hasn’t got its italics and bold family complete yet. Talk about living on the edge. You might imagine how this can quickly become hard work to manage (with each font needing its own spacing and baseline grids and so on, so it’s worth bearing in mind that:
It isn’t a redesign. We still have the same editing and design sensibilities whatever font we are using. Because we are only out roughly four times a year, it is work to do it, but it’s not like running a weekly magazine. I wouldn’t recommend it as a technique for a weekly magazine!
I don’t want to spoil too much of this brilliant interview, so make sure to save it and admire the sample machine-generated cover illustrations. And if you were lucky enough to get your own copy… save it, and save it well.