The Design Process

Have you ever wondered how exactly The Auburn Circle comes into existence each semester? Our editor-in-chief, Shelby Rice, shares a taste of what it’s like to put together the magazine each semester. The upcoming Spring 2014 issue will be Shelby’s 4th issue as editor-in-chief, so be on the lookout for the recently completed masterpiece, available as early as April 22 at our 4th biannual launch party, SNAPS.

Q: On average, how many hours does it take to put together each issue? 

A: “From start to finish, it probably takes somewhere between 125-150 man hours to put the magazine together. That number includes the hours that staff members put into evaluating submissions, the hours the section editors spend designing their pages, and the hours that I spend finishing the magazine.”

Q: Which part of the process usually takes the longest? 

A: “The step that takes the most hours is evaluating the submissions. I would estimate that my staff spends a total of 100-125 hours reviewing the submissions we receive and determining whether or not they want to publish them.”

Q: What programs do you use to create the magazine? 

A: “The main program we use to design the magazine is Adobe InDesign CS5.5. We also use Photoshop when we’re working on the visual arts spreads.”

Q: Stylistically, what are some differences between The Auburn Circle and other popular magazines? 

A: “The Auburn Circle is quite different stylistically from popular magazines, because we have to balance pictures, graphic design, art, etc. with the written pieces. In most popular magazines, the emphasis is on the text, and the pictures are secondary. However, with the Circle, we try to balance both the text and the pictures equally, so that the pictures enhance the text and vice versa.”

Q: Is there a certain order when it comes to designing the magazine? 

A: “Normally, we pick the font color first, and it’s been happy serendipity that the covers have matched the inside color for the past three semesters. However, this semester, I picked a font color that clashed with the cover, so we had to backtrack and pick a new color based on the cover. But we always pick the cover before we start designing the rest of the magazine, so at that point in the process, changing the color wasn’t difficult.

After picking the cover and the font color, I generally like to start with the prose pieces (fiction and nonfiction), because they’re the easiest to layout.

Then we move on to poetry, which is a bit more difficult. We have to find a way to fit both the poem and the pictures that go with it on the page, which can be challenging, because sometimes the shape of the poem and the picture are just too much to fit on one page.

After poetry, we move on to the visual arts layouts, which basically entails filling in the blank pages with photographs. This sounds easy, but it’s often quite difficult to find pictures that have a similar subject or look to them so that it makes sense to pair them together.

Finally, when all the pages are in the order that they’ll be printed, I fill in the table of contents and write my letter from the editor. And that’s it. After all that, we have a magazine that’s ready to be sent off to the printer.”

Q: What is the biggest challenge that the Circle faces when it comes to designing the magazine? 

A: “The biggest challenge is two-fold. First of all, it’s really difficult to fit in all of the submissions that the staff wants to publish. On average, we receive over 200 submissions each semester, and the staff okays about 35-40% of those submissions. However, we have a limited amount of pages, and not everything can go into the magazine. I do my best to include all of the submissions that the staff wants published, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Then we have the second part of the challenge. Because we don’t set a theme ahead of time, all of the submissions we receive are completely different. Setting a tone for the magazine and finding a way to put all of those submissions together so it makes sense is extremely difficult.”

Q: What’s your favorite part about the design process? 

A: “My favorite part of the design process is seeing an entire magazine come into being. Before we start designing, I set up a blank template – all the pages that are going to be in the magazine are there, but they’re empty. It’s very gratifying to see those blank pages slowly be filled into until we eventually have a finished magazine. ”


Meet the Staff: Michelle Bangson

Hey Circle readers, meet your managing editor for the 2013-2014 school year, Michelle Bangson! Michelle is a junior in professional and public writing. She started putting her writing skills to work at the Circle as a copy editor her sophomore year.

“The best part is getting to read everything and getting to read it first and make sure it’s really perfect,” she said. She’s never submitted anything of her own to The Circle because she prefers reading to writing.

Michelle said her favorite submission ever sent into the Circle is “Makes Your Heart Move” by Paul Vance, featured in the Fall 2012 issue.

When asked about the hardest part about working for The Circle, she laughed and said there wasn’t anything hard about it. (Michelle, we’ll get back to you about that comment when distribution comes around in April.)

Michelle said her favorite book was “A Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, although it was really hard for her to pick a favorite. She also had a hard time picking a literary character she’d like to meet, but eventually settled on a kid classic.

“I’d like to meet the hungry caterpillar from Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and take a selfie with it,” she said. “Just kidding! I would like to meet the Wife of Bath, though. That’d be a fun time.”

With so many best sellers going to the big screen lately, Michelle gave us her two cents on movie adaptations of classics.

“As a kid I loved the movie “Matilda,” which is, of course, an adaptation of the Roald Dahl book,” she said. “Matilda was bookish like me, and what kid doesn’t wish for telekinetic powers?”

However, there are a couple movie adaptations Michelle isn’t a big fan of.

“There have been some truly awful book-to-movie adaptations – looking at you, “Scarlet Letter” with Demi Moore ­– but personally, my least favorite is “My Sister’s Keeper” because you just can’t change which character dies,” she said. “You just can’t.”

Which book-to-movie adaptations do you like? Which ones can’t you stand? Comment below to let us know!





Friday Favorites

Coming back from spring break isn’t easy. Especially when the ever-indecisive Alabama weather decides to greet returning students with a lovely dose of cold and rainy Monday. But despite the dreary start, post-spring break week has definitely had its bright and sunshiney moments. Here’s some of the Circle’s favorites for this week:


Bruce Pearl is back on the Plains, and we’re loving it! Who cares about the dreary post-spring break weather when we get to have this crazy cat ruling the Jungle? Miss the epic press conference on Tuesday? Here’s a link to the video.

2. This Week’s Episode of Auburn Sings

While the Circle staff has been busy designing a magazine that showcases some of Auburn’s best artistic talent, our friends at Eagle Eye TV have been on the hunt for some of Auburn’s best musical talent. This week’s episode of Auburn Sings was by far one of our highlights of the week! Be sure to check it out here to see the final four sing for guest judges Sammie Coates and Miss Auburn, Meg McGuffin.

3. Art Meets Grammar

The piece of work in this Buzzfeed article combines design, literature and the art of grammar. How could we not favorite this? See the full article here.

4. $1 Books

If you’re looking to stock up on your favorite books or interested in trying a blind date with a new book, the Friends of the Auburn Public Library are hosting a book sale this Saturday (March 22), and almost all of the books will be on sale for either 50 cents or $1. To take part in the epic book sale, put the kindle down, head up to Dean Road Recreation Center from 8 a.m.- 1 p.m., and trade in some quarters for a good, old-fashioned paperback. Books on a college budget. What’s not to love?

5. Sunny and Pleasant Weather 

Monday may have been dreary, but we are ending the week on a sunny and pleasant note! Enjoy the beautiful weather and have a wonderful Friday everyone!