September 13, 2000
Most PAW editors, wrote
then-editor Lanny Jones '66 in 1973, "have fallen victim to
deep-seated urges to tinker with the magazine's cover." You're
holding the latest proof of that observation -although, admittedly,
PAW's new design is the result of a thorough overhaul rather than
When renowned designer
Tom Carnase came into our offices with the first of his proposals
for PAW's new look, he showed us six potential covers. Four of them
sported the word Princeton, large and bold and centered across the
top of the page. Two showed variations on a logo, sophisticated,
blocky, and orange, in the upper left-hand corner.
We immediately rejected
the logo. "No way," we said. "Alumni would never
go for it. Too radical. Forget it."
But as we discussed the
goals for our new look, that interlocking P-A-W kept popping back
up. We wanted the cover to be visually powerful, to announce with
authority that here was a magazine with a difference. Given our
new, closer financial ties to the university, we were determined
to emphasize our continuing independence, and the idea of establishing
our own identity as PAW - which, after all, is the way we've been
known for years, even back when we really were a weekly - was very
Finally, of course, we
were looking for something beautiful - even in orange.
As we debated, we spread
out on the floor all the alumni magazines from all the Ivies and
beyond. Every last one of them had the name of its institution large
and bold and centered across the top of the page. And suddenly the
choice seemed clear. PAW isn't like any other alumni magazine: it's
published more frequently, its Class Notes are more personal, its
letters more contentious. Why, then, should it look like every other
We gulped and made the
call. "We'll go with the logo," we told Tom.
Once we'd made the big
decision on the cover, the rest was easy. Carnase Inc. custom-tailored
a typeface for us to give PAW better legibility without sacrificing
words for white space. The Carnase designers suggested occasionally
silhouetting photos - cutting them out - to add interest to otherwise
pedestrian art. And they laid the entire magazine over a comfortable
grid that keeps the design consistent but still allows for surprises.
In Jones's essay on PAW's
history, he made the ominous aside that "various cover designs
have made brief appearances, only to sink under tidal waves of alumni
dissent." Although we think you'll agree that PAW's new look
is spectacular, we're prepared for some thunder and heavy rains.
We just hope you spare us the tsunami.