History Matters

Quick Facts

Project Type

Graphic Design, Writing


May 2019 - July 2019

Completed Project

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History is important. It informs out understanding of the present and prepares us to build a better future. This idea is central to the University of Michigan Department of History’s annual magazine, which shows how students, faculty, and alumni are putting history to work in the real world.

Throughout the magazine, hexagons served as a motif to create visual unity. These elements continue to be used in new editions of History Matters.

I used a different set of analagous colors on each spread in the magazine.

The Project

I spent two years as the event and communications coordinator in the Department of History at Michigan. In many ways, my time there is what helped me rediscover my love for design; creating event posters, departmental rack cards, and social media assets allowed me to sharpen my visual skills and think about how I could continue to learn.

My time in History ended when I decided to go to graduate school, but before I left, I had one final opportunity: redesign the department’s annual newsletter. My job was to create a magazine template that the department could reuse in the future and to design unique layouts for each article in the 2019 issue. I also served as one of the magazine’s writers and associate editors.

The magazine's main articles each had a distinct style that matched their story. My article, "Piecing Together the Past," explored honors students experiences in the archives when researching their theses.

The Process

Before opening Adobe InDesign or selecting fonts and color schemes, I looked at magazines. A lot of them. I focused particularly on other academic department’s annual publications, noting what I liked and didn’t like about their layout and style. My colleagues and I agreed that, to prove history’s relevance in the present, our magazine needed to feel modern and inviting. With that in mind, I began experimenting.

I ultimately decided to take two different approaches when designing the magazine. Main articles would each be created in a distinct style that complemented the content of their story, while the front and back of book would use hexagons as a design motif. This decision helped keep the magazine fresh and engaging while maintain a cohesive design throughout.

A print edition of History Matters circulates to over 10,000 alumni every year.

The Product

This 24-page magazine was printed in September 2019 and distributed to over 10,000 departmental alumni (including me!). This edition continues to be used as a template for the magazine, which continues to show why history matters.

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