From The Editor

By Pam Daniel October 1, 2010

We Look Marvelous!

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve already noticed that our magazine looks different this month—and you’ve only seen the first few pages. By the time you reach the last page of this issue—a sunset shot with a unique Sarasota twist—we hope you’ll be as delighted as we are with the fresh new face of Sarasota’s long-running city magazine.

Magazines update their look regularly, of course, and in our 32 years we’ve gone through a number of design evolutions.

But I don’t think we’ve ever unveiled an issue we’re as excited about as this one, and that’s because our entire creative team has spent months rethinking and reinventing almost every aspect of the publication.

We were led in that process by one of the top magazine professionals in the country, John Miller, whose Tampa-based Miller360 helps design and launch print, digital and Web publications and campaigns for clients such as Vanity Fair, Saveur, Self, the Wall Street Journal, Target and many more. Miller started at the top with magazines; he got hired as a designer back in the 1980s at the age of 22, after he walked into the New York offices of Esquire magazine, without an appointment, and the legendary art director Robert Priest spotted his portfolio on a secretary’s desk.

His resume up to then? He’d been running a soup kitchen in Santa Barbara, Calif., when one of the homeless guys told him, “You talk about so much different stuff you should work for a newspaper.” Miller took his advice, taking a job at an alternative weekly where he fell in love with design and completely revamped the newspaper. Next stop: the big leagues. From Priest, Miller learned that great design always starts with storytelling, and his next mentor, the even more legendary Roger Black (designer of such publications as Rolling Stone, Newsweek and Time) taught him that design must address every aspect of a magazine, from its readership to advertising.

Miller led us through a series of meetings, where we discussed our mission, our contents—and our city. “You guys talked so adoringly about your readers and your town,” he says. “You made it so clear that Sarasota is the perfect blend of living in paradise and artsy sophistication.” He and our art director, Gigi Ortwein, whose light, elegant touch is all over this issue, made it their goal for the new design to reflect that perfect blend.

The changing face of Sarasota: covers from January 1991, April 2007 and this issue.

“We wanted every page to reaffirm how smart your readers are and show them something unique to Sarasota,” says Miller. They chose colors inspired by our sea, sand and skies and used lots of big, beautiful pictures. And—you can’t imagine how traumatic this was for us word-aholic editors—they leaned on us to mix shorter pieces in with longer stories. (Oh, the mutinous mutterings, when another e-mail would pop up from Miller, saying “Page looks great but story still too long!”)

But now we love the spacious new feeling on those pages, and the way a reader can either dip in and out of little chunks of information or settle in for a good, long read. Most of all, we love that Sarasota, the magazine, now looks and feels so much like Sarasota, the city. And we’re grateful that our management, in times when many publications are cutting back, invested in taking such a bold step forward.

We’re eager to hear what you think of our changes; you can e-mail me at [email protected] or post your comments on our Facebook page.

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