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On the racks

Bastard measures

12.11.07 | Comment?

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I recently received the second issue of ykky, an elegantly-designed English-language tabloid from Sweden. With all the frivolous anniversary issues one finds these days (Rolling Stone just devoted a whole issue to the Wah-Wah pedal’s ’40th) it’s nice to see a magazine commemorating something meaningful. In this issue, ykky celebrates “water,” which is, (I think,) having yet another jubilee in February. While H20 is referenced directly only on the lovely, stark cover, on the masthead, and in an interior pool shot, when one considers that this issue of ykky would not have been possible without water, its influence on every page can be felt in myriad small ways.

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It’s remarkable what a difference a few square inches can make, and ykky uses its tabloid format for all it’s worth, opening up with airy, open type-driven pages, then shifting to photo features that revel in the interplay of elements and background. The result is almost cinematic. This pacing, along with an interest in iconoclastic artists and writers is the glue that holds ykky together as it shifts topically from sound artists to poetry to photo essays to an interview with Jop van Bennekom—his sophisticated gay porn and fashion magazines were featured in the Fall 2006 Eye. The eclectic mix will likely not appeal to everyone, and in truth the writing can ramble a bit, but overall it’s a lovely package.

Considering the visual care that defines most of the design decisions, there are a few typographical decisions that choose being different over functionality—such as the use of double-wide bastard columns in the middle of almost every text page, and the idiosyncratic use of em-dashes to define the start of questions and answers on interview pages. This creates ladders up and down the left-hand side of columns. There could also be more hyphenation, which is the lesser of two evils when columns are justified.

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Above and below are probably my two favorite spreads from the magazine. The box, printed large enough to appear the size it would look if it was at your feet, seems to form a bottomless pit in the page—it’s startling the first time you turn to it. The lower spread includes the schematic for (or possibly an only-reluctantly FOIA’d) MySpace page.

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