Last week I heard on Twitter that there was a new Formula 1 magazine called GP International that was being created, with the aim of being an upmarket magazine containing high quality articles and photography. This is interesting on two levels, one because I am a enormous fan of Formula 1, having followed it for years, and being a graphic design student I felt there was an opportunity to look into the design points as it may offer something new, especially being high-end, as these magazines often tend to focus more on design.
So I managed to get a copy of the first issue, and spent last weekend looking through it in the limited time I had between working on my project preparing for an interim crit and watching the F1 in Korea. Below are my thoughts, with a few photos I took of the magazine for the purpose of educational analysis.
Looking at the photography, it is fantastic throughout the magazine, especially with the spreads just featuring images, with no text disturbing it. In many cases this meant there were no captions, which meant the article, if there was one had to convey any extra meaning to the images. I haven’t read it fully yet, but I believe it does this job well. The image above on the right of Mark Webber is a useful image for my portraits project at the moment as it shows the determination and focus he has while preparing. Looking into the iris also allows us to see reflections of what he sees, but I feel they are very small, and therefore difficult to interpret. Potentially I think there may be an idea in there for my portraits project to have the whole face that is reflective to give a bigger picture as to what that person is seeing. Maybe it could be done via an illustration…
Looking into how type is presented for articles, with the column written by Will Buxton, I have to say I think the way that the columns of type are arranged so as to leave space for images and a pull quote to fit in works extremely well, that is something I may experiment with in the future for one of my editorial design ideas. The three smaller images are something I noticed as a trend within this issue of GP International, that I have not seen before which is to have a drop cap for the beginning of every paragraph in some articles, I presume to mark a more definitive end to a particular topic the article was talking about. Also some of the first paragraphs were larger than the rest of the article, next to a drop cap. Whilst this works well, I found it difficult when reading to move smoothly from the feature ‘sell’ paragraph to the main body copy.
Something else I really appreciated seeing within the magazine that I was not expecting was the level of typographic attention spared for features such as titles and drop caps to enable articles about say, a particular team such as Caterham or Williams to stand out. The magazine uses many typefaces for their feature articles to differentiate them from the rest of the more typical monthly features, and you can sense that a lot of thought and detail has gone into making it a successfully designed magazine.
I have to confess to not being entirely sure whether there is a deeper meaning to the use of some typefaces.
However, they suit the subject of the topic, which is the key consideration and I think they look great, there are some very intriguing typographic details that I have not seen before such as the shaping of the strokes in the Williams article, which was very angular and technical looking, suggesting the article has a technical focus to it, backed up by the image of the Williams factory (bottom pair of images) and the integration of some characters (top pair of images) for the Caterham article such as the ‘C’ and ‘A’ for the title and the ‘T’ and ‘H’ characters for the drop cap, where part of the eye believes to be the shape of the ‘T’ character is actually a serif for the ‘H’ when you look closely. I felt this was an exceptionally fluid design that used the strokes at the end to draw your eye from the display type to the body copy and added connotations of speed and efficiency, two traits of Formula 1.
With Formula 1 being a highly complex sport, with enormous quantities of data needed to understand the finer details, information graphics need to be used, and used well. GP International has done a very good job of this as the two example images show with the use of colours, tables and dividers used to ensure that the information remains legible and enjoyable to read. The infographics for the weather and tyres used at each race is a particular delight of mine, as they are so simple, but effectively done to convey the information.
I have to say the quality of the writing for the articles is of a very high standard, like the rest of the magazine and I learnt a lot of very interesting information from reading the feature articles. This is just what I want from a magazine, and I feel what a magazine needs to be successful, as many people will just get their day to day news from a website, so offering news in a magazine is not enough today to guarantee survival; more must be offered.
So has GP International done what it needs to be a success? Well I would certainly hope so. Running a magazine can be more about having finance on top of great content, but I feel the content produced here is of a great quality, I think the magazine has achieved the aims you can read about here. I sincerely hope it becomes a successful magazine, and when I get some spare time, I think I will be looking into a subscription.