From an Orthodox Jewish drug dealer to performing burlesque during Covid, Brooklyn Magazine illustrates the most left-field stories


A melting pot of cultures and a meeting place of all the extremes of a city like New York, it can be a challenge for creatives to encapsulate what the neighbourhood of Brooklyn means for its citizens, and how to translate it for non-Brooklynites. Now, though, New York’s most populous borough has its own magazine, relaunched in early 2021 under new ownership and with a new brand identity from SJR.

With headlines you never thought you’d read, the publication’s written content isn’t the only wonderfully dynamic and fresh thing about it. This autumn, “issue one just dropped in print with a split run of four different typographic covers, which meant translating a design system from digital to print,” says creative director Joelle McKenna. Brooklyn is a hard place to summarise, but Joelle hopes that “wrapping your hands around the printed piece feels like you can almost wrap your head around the place itself.”

She continues: “The contrasty energy of Brooklyn is reflected in the brand identity through imagery, colour and typography that balances the big and boisterous with the subtle and stoic.” On the team, Bardia Koushan is senior art director, Jess Ulman is designer and illustrator, Catherine Choi is designer for print and web, Sebastian Longhitano is a designer, and Christophe Marchand is another designer and illustrator. For the new visual system, Joelle explains that the team used “lots of black and white, loud and fast primary colour pairings, and a variety of illustration styles, done in the unique hand of the individual contributor.”

In order to define a place like Brooklyn, the magazine needed to be, from a storytelling perspective, “a vessel for the serious and not-so-serious alike”. The goal of the creative team, therefore, was to create “a system flexible enough to unite these different Brooklyn voices in any format – editorial, advertising or sponsored content. The aim was cohesiveness.” Full-bleed colour spreads which make use of a limited palette, white pages that pull in the broader colours of the magazine’s identity, and “moments of just black and white” help bring this cohesiveness to fruition.

Whilst for the typographic design, Fercozzi’s typeface Gabriella is the base for Brooklyn’s logotype. “We love Fernanda Cozzi’s super heavy-weight typeface,” says Joelle. The team had a custom “K” created to balance the “R’s” “flat, funky slab leg,” she says, whilst the double “O’s” in “Brooklyn” exist static in print or animated “like a pair of eyes tracking the mouse on bkmag.com”. The low and wide font with rectangular counters means it’s useful in scaling large for section titles. And Frere-Jones’s Empirica, a monumental serif for contrast, is used in Brooklyn Magazine’s headlines. “A typeface with natural authority and ‘empire’ associations felt like the right counterbalance to Gabriella’s chunky flare,” argues the creative director: “Our body typeface is Rongel by Feliciano, another historical serif with interesting angles.”



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