BE­HIND THE WHEEL

Our se­nior writer says that Torque’s strength doesn’t just come from its ed­i­to­rial con­tent, but its de­sign, too.

Torque (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - JEREMY CHUA

NNOT ev­ery­one is ar­tis­ti­cally in­clined, but if you love read­ing Torque, then you’re prob­a­bly drawn to this mag­a­zine’s de­sign, too.

Yes, nice images are im­por­tant. But who­ever says that a car mag­a­zine is “just a col­lec­tion of pho­tos and words” has never worked for a print pub­li­ca­tion. In­deed, Torque wouldn’t be an award-win­ning mag­a­zine with­out its art team, which con­sists of an art di­rec­tor and se­nior de­signer. Our art team’s pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity is to pro­duce lay­outs. In a nut­shell, this means plac­ing pic­tures and text on pages.

But if you think that tem­plates make their job eas­ier, you’d be mis­taken. The task of cre­at­ing lay­outs isn’t just about “cut­ting and past­ing”. The most im­por­tant lay­out is the mag­a­zine’s cover. Be­fore de­cid­ing on the cover’s colour theme, our art di­rec­tor must care­fully con­sider the cover car, cover

lines and past colours used.

And if our current art di­rec­tor had been work­ing for Torque a decade ago, he’d also have to con­sider the cover girl and her wardrobe. I told him that he’s lucky not to have these added com­pli­ca­tions, but I’m pretty sure he feels oth­er­wise.

Jokes aside, draft­ing a good lay­out is akin to a chef pre­par­ing a dish. Imag­ine din­ing at a Miche­lin-starred res­tau­rant. You or­der a medium-rare steak with gar­lic mashed pota­toes and creamed spinach on the side. But in­stead of the in­gre­di­ents be­ing plated prop­erly, they’re thrown into a blender and pureed, be­fore be­ing served to you in a large bowl. The dish would be un­ap­petis­ing, to say the least.

So, to de­liver a pol­ished prod­uct, we go through nu­mer­ous dis­cus­sions, ar­gu­ments and com­pro­mises be­fore de­cid­ing on lay­outs.

For in­stance, be­fore the last re­vamp of Torque in 2015, some ca­sual read­ers and non-en­thu­si­asts felt that our three-car Group Test lay­out was tricky to nav­i­gate.

Although we ini­tially felt that we had to give read­ers as many de­tails as pos­si­ble, we later re­alised that we needed to sim­plify the de­sign to present the story more clearly to read­ers. The current lay­out is much bet­ter. A reader’s wife ac­tu­ally e-mailed us, prais­ing the re­vised lay­out. She said it was so or­gan­ised that she ac­tu­ally got hooked on our mag­a­zine, and ended up sur­pris­ing her hubby with her new­found knowl­edge about cars! But our art team doesn’t just de­ter­mine page lay­outs, font styles and font sizes. It is also in­stru­men­tal in hold­ing pho­tog­ra­phers to our mag­a­zine’s stan­dards. Our in-house pho­togs can­not just spe­cialise in cars. They have to shoot ev­ery­thing from food to fash­ion. That’s why it’s es­sen­tial to have a mem­ber of our art team at photo shoots.

Nat­u­rally, we pre­fer work­ing with pho­togs who are more fa­mil­iar with our re­quire­ments. And when it comes to free­lancers, we usu­ally work with the same two guys, who we con­sider to be the best in the field of au­to­mo­tive pho­tog­ra­phy.

These two fel­las are so tal­ented and hard­work­ing that even car deal­ers are will­ing to spend more money to hire them in­stead of other pho­tog­ra­phers who charge less, but may not al­ways de­liver the de­sired re­sults.

But even af­ter the pho­tog­ra­phers de­liver great images, the job of our art guys isn’t over. They will spend time clean­ing up the pho­tos, us­ing dig­i­tal “magic” to re­move “pho­to­bomb” el­e­ments (such as lamp posts and street signs) that add clut­ter to a picture. How­ever, they must be care­ful not to overdo this, lest the pho­tos look too ar­ti­fi­cial.

Pho­tos and lay­outs aside, our art team has be­come adept at shoot­ing and edit­ing short video clips, too. Our “Guess The Car!” con­tests on Torque’s Face­book page, for in­stance, wouldn’t be pos­si­ble with­out their skills.

But for all their con­tri­bu­tions, our art team never gets in­vited to lunch by mar­ket­ing or PR man­agers, who seem to have over­looked the fact that Torque couldn’t func­tion, much less ex­ist, with­out it. Per­haps more in­dus­try folks and read­ers will re­alise this af­ter read­ing my ode to art. JEREMY SPENDS A LOT OF TIME WITH THE ART TEAM, BUT RE­MAINS WOE­FULLY CLUE­LESS WHEN IT COMES TO CRE­AT­ING LAY­OUTS.

I TOLD OUR ART DI­REC­TOR THAT HE’S LUCKY NOT HAV­ING TO DEAL WITH COVER GIRLS, BUT I’M PRETTY SURE HE FEELS OTH­ER­WISE.

Our se­nior writer feels that Torque cov­ers like this one had more “dan­ger­ous curves”.

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