Byline magazine launches

A new quarterly magazine for The Times’ Times+ membership aims to offer an insight into the newspaper’s news gathering process and is designed and art directed by Design by St

Cover portrait: Caitlin Moran by Kate Peters

A new quarterly magazine for The Times’ Times+ membership aims to offer an insight into the newspaper’s news gathering process and is designed and art directed by Design by St…

According to the studio, the brief for the new title was that it “look and feel, bold, warm, fresh and different to the usual communication expected by members but retain a sense of Times style”. The Times+ membership offers The Times and The Sunday Times’ readers exclusive offers, events and Q&As with the newspapers’ journalists.

Design by St decided on the format and paper for Byline first, designing the magazine around those parameters. Here, Steve Fenn explains the thinking behind this direction, and the subsequent typography and illustration choices that the the studio made.

CR: Your design started with sourcing the paper first – in terms of print projects you’ve worked on, is that unusual? Why was it important to settle on that aspect of the job before doing anything else?

Steve Fenn: I think that’s how we would like to think about every editorial print project we do, though it’s not always possible. This was a nice chance to start something from scratch so it was important to think about it from the bottom up as a product on the whole.

It was important that this felt like a quality product and not just an editorial supplement, that was part of the brief. We were keen to try and print it sheet fed rather than web offset, which we knew would help greatly with quality but be tricky due to the scale of the run (265,000).

We worked with Alan Flack at Principal Colour to get to a comfortable and different reading size that was do-able at this print spec; he helped us source a nice uncoated sheet (Antalis Cyclus Offset) that we could order the amount of paper we needed at a making size (made to order, bespoke for our mag size).

So, in short, we started with the size and the paper so we could get a feel for what we were dealing with before we moved onto the grid and type, as we were punching in the dark without the basics in place first – and the feel and print quality of the product was important so seemed the best place to start.

CR: Can you tell us about the type palette you’ve used here? What faces have you brought in, and how do they relate back to The Times?

SF: We had to stick to Times licensed fonts due to budgets etc. so we knew we would always retain a sense of that style. We looked at various other Time magaziness like Eureka, The Sunday Times Magazine etc. to ensure we found a way of using the set in a quite different way.

We used the Bureau Grotesque, in upper and lower case for headings as that had a nice personality and felt quite different, then we went big and bold with the Stag Sans on the leader features for some pace and variety, which again felt varied from other Times publications.

This contrasting with the more traditional Times styles for the text and the stand firsts / pull quotes worked well. Then it was just about the finer details following a system.

And for the masthead typography, we found a black weight of Bureau Grotesque that The Times didn’t have. We felt it needed that difference on the cover, one that was still able to relate well to the upper and lower case Bureau Grotesque and caps Stag Sans on the inside.

CR: We know Robert Hanson‘s work well at CR – he created the cover of our London Underground special issue last year. Can you tell me about the icon set he was asked to create for the project?

SF: We’ve worked with Robert on quite a few projects, so we know he had the perfect brain for what we wanted. We realised we needed to add a bit of warmth and wit to the mag, so our brief to him was to summarise in one hit the subject of the four leading features and tie in the main aim of the mag, to give readers an exclusive insight to the news gathering process.

We then went through lots of tiny scribbles with him to distill them down to the simplest graphic forms, that would be readable at the size. Two of them (‘lead interview’ and ‘a day in the life’) will be regulars so we can continue to use them. They ended up working brilliantly, Robert is always great to work with.

CR: Is this a project which is now handed over to someone in-house, or are you taking on the design and art direction going forward?

SF: The plan is to continue with the design art direction going forward. As with all the magazines we do, we always aim to develop and improve things issue by issue so no doubt the next one will present new challenges, but we have the structure in place and the tone of voice has been established, it will be about elaborating on that and moving forward to bring any new editorial ideas to life in the same vein.

Illustration in issue 1: Robert Hanson (icons), Marcus Butt. Print: Principal Colour. More from Design by St at

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