As Seen in Magazines

All my digital cheerleading aside, I must admit there’s nothing quite like seeing your name in print. There’s an intangible quality to the medium that’s predicated, at last in part, on how relatively difficult and expensive it is to get large numbers of printed items in the hands of actual consumers.

Take magazines, for example. In this digital age, their strange, delayed distribution often makes them feel like time capsules from a world that’s perpetually six to eight weeks behind our own. And yet, when one’s name appears in one… then it’s a thrilling moment, there’s no doubt.

This month, my name appears in two magazines, and I have to admit, both times gave me a thrill. They’re both design publications, of course — Reader’s Digest still refuses to run my heartwarming story of how typography saved me when I fell through the ice during a cold New England winter — and they’re both on newsstands right now.

Honorable Mentions

First up is a very generous write-up of A Brief Message in STEP Inside Design Magazine, which generously reports on our platform for compact, provocative design opinion and criticism — and in exactly two hundred words, no less. (Full disclosure: it’s probably no accident that it was written by my good friend and A Brief Message contributor Alissa Walker.) Seeing Jennifer Daniel’s beautiful origami dinosaurs — which ran with our first article and have since become our de facto mascots — is a real joy. And also something of a kick in the pants; as I said yesterday, I’m anxious to get back in gear with that site in the coming days.

A Brief Message in STEP Inside Design Magazine

To top that off, an article I wrote is out now in issue 66 of the United Kingdom’s legendary design magazine, Eye. I’ve been a huge fan of this publication for over a decade, even when it was economically inadvisable for me to be so devoted to it. It’s available in the States only as an import, so it᾿s always exorbitantly priced on newsstands. But somehow, during my lean years as an aimless and underpaid designer, I managed to scrape together the money to buy every issue. So to have an article I wrote actually published between its covers is a big moment for me.

Baby Steps by Khoi Vinh in Eye Magazine

My piece is called “Baby Steps,” and it’s about finding the aesthetic qualities that are inherent to each new form of media that we encounter as designers. Focusing mostly on the coming shifts in design for mobile devices, I try to make the argument that the design world’s emulative tendencies — embodied most prominently in the high-fidelity iPhone᾿s Safari browser — are less helpful than Web designers think; in fact I regard them as distractions from the real vocabulary of truly great native experiences.

Unfortunately, neither article is available online. But you can have your very own copy of each if you scare up a few twenty-dollar bills and head down to your local newsstand. Not only do you get to read the whole of each article, but you get hard copies, too. Y᾿know what I mean; it’s like the printer-friendly version of an article, except it comes with lots of ads and subscription cards.

  1. Congratulations, Khoi! It really is an unforgettable feeling to see one’s name and work in print, and I’ve found that the feeling never fades over time!

    I’m heading into town tomorrow; I’ll try and pick up a copy of Eye (and SID if we get it as an import).

  2. Eye is a great magazine — I’ve also spent the crazy loot over the years to buy nearly every issue. Many congrats on the article! I’ve always thought that Eye was a little light on interactive and web design (this, of course, must in large part have to do with its gratifyingly heavy editorial focus on design and art history), so it’s surprising that they would leap all the way into mobile design. Nice to see it.

    So are you saying that Mobile Safari is an articial crutch for designers, who should in fact be designing native experiences instead of being content that their sites will work on newly empowered devices with zooming/scrolling screens? This sounds like blasphemy in the church of platform independence and web standards!

    I think, by the way, that I agree with you that native experiences are better. Mobile devices are so varied in their power and features that creating “sites” that work on all of them forces you to create sites that are very sub-optimal on every one of them. You may indeed be better off simply writing native apps for the top handful of devices and forcing everyone else to use a severely crippled version, or even to go without.

  3. I only bought the first couple of issues of Eye; then I started a subscription to save a lot of money. I have renewed it ever since, although I changed distributor once. It is by far the best magazine on graphic design and typography, anywhere.

  4. is down …

    It seems the excellent Eye magazine is in need of some web love . . . or perhaps has suffered from a bit too much of the same recently:

    “Warning: mysql_connect(): Too many connections in /home/h/a/haymarket/public_html/eyetool/global/db_mysql.php on line 66
    Database error: pconnect(localhost, haymarket, $Password) failed.
    MySQL Error: ()
    Session halted.”

    The typography of error message on the site is minimalistic, and the information conveyed is very clear: “We have been Subtraction-dot-com:ed and have no idea how the web works. Please buy the offset-printer-friendly version instead.”

    Embarrasing or refreshing?

  5. Print, on the digital era, represents a sort of a safe haven against the volatility implicit on digital substrates. Hard drives and web sites can break. Digital data can be wiped forever with a single button. But paper has stood the test of time for centuries. It needs no batteries, electricity or high tech to work its magic. It is like a way to immortalize yourself on a medium within the reach of present and future generations – and I think that’s why having one’s name and work in print is still so appealing. Not to mention a established, printed publication’s creed is still more respected than that of your average web site.

    Of course, congratulations for this and other future mentions that I’m sure will arise in the future.

  6. Congratulations, Khoi!

    That is SWEET! and well deserved. I used to get all giddy when my name would appear in the newspaper after a high school game with how many points I scored directly next to my name. If I was able to score double digits I got my last name in there as well. I think I still have some of them.

  7. For all the wonders of the digital age, the magazine remains a near-perfect technology. Portable. Intuitive. Inexpensive. Complete. Permanent. And, oh, the thud-factor! There’s nothing quite like that sound a perfect-bound magazine makes when it hits your coffee table just right.

    Seeing your name online isn’t in the same league as seeing it in print. It’s not even the same sport. Enjoy.

  8. Wow. Thanks for all the nice remarks about Eye magazine. It was almost a relief to see a bit of criticism — we’ll have to do something about those error messages. (Wait a minute — isn’t this the guy who tells us to ЉTurn The Internet Off’?)

    You can now read Khoi’s piece Baby steps online, on Be seeing you.

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