Last Summer and Fall I worked with the public-interest, non-profit news startup the San Francisco Public Press to re-brand the project and create a new visual identity for the paper's "flag" (that's the brand or name of the paper, in old-school newspaper terminology, and not to be confused with masthead or banner). Here's the most recent copy of the newspaper, chilling on my porch in Oaxaca. The issue is from Winter 2012-2013 and features a special section on seismic safety in San Francisco.
Here's the old brand, as displayed on the website and on the Fall 2011 issue of the paper. The Fall issue was designed (except for the flag, which predated his arrival) by the hard-working Tom Guffey.
I worked with the Public Press to brainstorm a bunch of ideas and an aesthetic to shoot for: retro-futurism, Golden Age of newspapers, the Golden Gate Bridge, classic Modernism all were touchstones. The other constraint was using a pay-what-you-can, free, or open-source font since there was, like, no budget for a premium license on a fancy typeface. The Public Press relies mostly on volunteers, and is basically a non-profit in startup mode.
The preceding two (Blanch and Onramp), though awesome typefaces, didn't seem to work. Then I landed on the idea of trying Duke, another great pay-what-you-can typeface - actually, a layered type system - by the highly talented James Edmondson, who as it happens is a San Francisco-based design student.
This typeface also echoes the San Francisco Panorama design by Dan Clowes and Dave Eggers. The Panorama - a giant experimental one-off newspaper by McSweeney's - featured investigative work by the SF Public Press on the Bay Bridge, and was the big inspiration behind the Public Press launching their own quarterly broadsheet.
Above is a mockup in Photoshop, and below the live site (screenshot from today). By the way, the stuff on the right hand side of the header is all CSS / HTML. I also gave some light improvements to the website (Drupal, which I have not learned to love) throwing in some dividers and spacing and swapping out the Georgia headers for Franklin Gothic Compressed, via Typekit.
And that was that - Tom Guffey used the new flag on his layout of the Fall 2012 issue, and a new design team is working with it now. It even popped up on a ChicoBag to my surprise.