Rebranding ALIVE Magazine: A Conversation with Editor-in-Chief Attilio D'Agostino
Before the release of the current issue, ALIVE’s editor-in-chief, Attilio D’Agostino, sat down to look at the magazine with fresh eyes. “There are certain things about the magazine’s content that are obvious to us which our original approach to design may not have communicated well to our readers,” he explains. “One example is the way we want to highlight the close linkages between those featured and their communities. We made a conscious decision to address that disconnect, and at the same time have a bit of fun.”
The first step in accurately expressing ALIVE’s mission was to change its cover line from “Creativity, Community and Conversation in the Heartland” to “Artists and Creatives in the Middle of America.” This includes the lives and work of artists, activists, writers, designers and creative entrepreneurs, in an effort to encompass the full scope of the individuals covered in the publication.
Besides people, ALIVE is very much about place: How place shapes us, how we shape place. “By inviting readers into an artist’s studio or behind a writer’s creative process and showing them how location has inspired them, influenced their perspective and impacted their work, we’re also pushing our audience to reflect on the legacy that we’ve all inherited, as well as the legacy we’re leaving behind for future generations,” D’Agostino says.
The current issue of ALIVE is a great example of the connectivity between the work of various artists based in the middle of the country and the space that we share. “From female artists and artists of color to regional artists, we have intentionally challenged ourselves to cover creatives and makers in historically underrepresented groups,” continues D’Agostino. “We’ve always advocated for the quality of craft coming out of the heartland, but more than that, this issue celebrates the synergy of these communities.”
The fashion story, for example, focuses on Hackwith Design House, a small batch manufacturer operating out of the Twin Cities, but also incorporates Four Eyes Ceramics, which makes incredible earrings that are gaining international recognition, and other local clay artists, such as Rebecca Blevins, who additionally is featured in an article at the beginning of the book. “Through the collaboration of these people for this one piece, we’re able to promote sustainable practice, ethical practice and beautiful practice, while connecting to the rest of the issue,” D’Agostino says. “The interconnectedness of ideas and people in this issue in particular is something that I’m really excited about, and it’s important to us to continue to achieve this in every issue.”
“As part of this exercise, we also took all of our covers and laid them side by side on a table; then we did the same with the back covers. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves when it comes to the cover—we strive to make it say the right thing and have an impact on the reader—but looking at them like that, I realized maybe we’re overthinking it. Because when we’re nearly finished with an issue and finally get around to designing the back cover, we’re much looser and, in being more playful, we wind up choosing an image that is simultaneously beautiful and engaging and not so literal.”
ALIVE’s creative director Mark Arnold took these ideas and developed a new cover design and logo that connect the subjects and places featured within the magazine’s pages. It’s a shift that drives home the magazine’s philosophy: “Rather than telling everyone how impressive artists and creatives in the middle of America are, we would rather show you what’s happening in this moment, in this place,” says D’Agostino.
Story by Rachel Huffman.
Images courtesy of Karina Tiller and Attilio D’Agostino.