Giving and Receiving

MCQ - December 24, 2010

At Christmas, we all hear that it is better to give than receive, and so we look for ways to give.  We strain our budgets to give to our children family and friends, sometimes with gifts that we know will be little used and not long remembered.  We want to give, so we do it anyway, because it’s traditional and because we want to honor the savior and the greatest gift of all.  It is right that we should do this, especially if we find meaningful ways to give to those who are truly in need.

But sometimes we need to be reminded how to receive as well.  This Christmas has been one of learning to receive for me and for my family, because my wife has had to undergo surgery and, though she is recovering well, she is unable to move much and so, as members of our church do, our ward members have given us many good meals and visits and wonderful wishes and prayers.  It requires some humility to receive rather than give.  I think most of us are much more comfortable being the giver than the receiver, but it is good for us to be reminded that we are all recipients of the freely given gifts of God, our Heavenly Father, who gave us his son, not because we earned it or deserved it, but simply because he loves us.  I have felt that love this Christmas and I wish that feeling for all of you on this holy Christmas eve.  Merry Christmas.

What Would You Change About The Ensign?

Rusty - December 7, 2010

Part of my design education focused on editorial design. Magazines. I designed three different magazines in undergrad and one in graduate school (it was my thesis, actually). I was nourished with the editorial design work of Alexy Brodovich (Harper’s Bazaar), Fred Woodward (Rolling Stone), Fabien Baron (Italian Vogue), Kalman & Toscani (Colors), George Lois (Esquire covers) and even David Carson (Beach Culture) among others. At the time magazines like Wallpaper and Nest were new and hip and cool. To my young, idealistic mind, concept and aesthetic were king.

So you can imagine as a design student at BYU I didn’t care much for the design of the Ensign (or any other Church publication for that matter). Not only was the typography dreadful, the images were (always) literal (and generally bad), but there seemed to be little consideration for concept. The designers/editors weren’t challenging me, they weren’t giving me anything to think about. It was like the bad Gospel Doctrine class where you only get (the same old) answers and no good questions to actually chew on.

Well, they’ve made a few adjustments since then, as have I. And through years of experiencing the real world I’ve come to understand that managing the design of large brands not only requires a realistic understanding of who your true consumer is, but also a realization that communication is king. Aesthetics and concept are merely tools that assist the communication. Of course, none of this is to say the design and/or editorial of the Ensign is good. Far from it. I mean, if there’s any magazine in the world that should be inspiring, this is it, right?

So, this is where you come in. Let’s say that you’ve been hired by the Church to completely overhaul the Ensign (or any of the Church’s publications). What would you change in the design? And the editorial? Do you like the features and departments as they are? What would you toss? What would you add? And keep in mind, this is the Ensign, not Dialogue or Sunstone.