AN ARKANSAS MAGAZINE needs to be representative of the state, and not just in terms of content. It’s got to look like it, too—the essence of Arkansas distilled into fonts and figures, glyphs and graphics. So, how do you do that? We wondered that, too. But once we really started talking about the state, and about how much it’s changed since the magazine was founded 10 years ago, it just kind of flowed out of us, thanks in no small part to the newest Arkansan on our staff: our creative director, Emma Devine.

The redesigned Arkansas Life, which launched with the September 2017 issue, offers a better reader experience in terms of organization, consistency and visual appeal. To offer more way-finding for the reader, five sections were created to contain front- and back-of-book departments: FRONT PORCH, LIFE/STYLE, DISPATCHES, TABLE and VENTURE. A mini TOC begins each section, and each section features both rotating and permanent departments to keep the magazine fresh, yet consistent month-to-month. The DISPATCHES section created room for essays and other non-feature longform that had previously wound up on the cutting room floor. As a whole, word counts for department pieces were cut in favor of lighter, more digestible pieces that offer a place to land for more passive readers.

Every design detail was considered and tweaked, from the nameplate to the end glyph and everything in between. The guiding design principle was turn-of-the-century typography and rural signage, which pay homage to the rootedness of our agrarian state. To keep things feeling progressive and modern, we went for an airy, playful use of the grid. Clever headlines and decks, as well as well-placed captions and pullouts, attract the reader's eye and serve as entry points throughout the book.

"If we have more fun making the book, then the reader will have more fun reading it." This was our goal for the redesign—I think we achieved it. See below for sample pages from the redesign.