How does a creative team make an Anniversary issue worth holding on to?
St. Mary’s College of Maryland has a history dating back to 1840 and a picturesque, riverside location adjacent to St Mary’s City, Maryland’s original capital through the 17th century. Our design for The Mulberry Tree magazine, launched in 2011, reflects the school’s long history with a typographic style informed by early American poster design and with a nameplate incorporating an archival drawing of the college’s iconic mulberry tree. This year, St. Mary’s celebrates its 175th anniversary, prompting us to extend our use of its archives for a cover shot juxtaposing a photo of a mid-19th century alumna with a current student imitating the formal portrait style of the earlier era.
This year, St Mary’s celebrates its 175th anniversary, prompting us to extend our use of its archives for a cover shot juxtaposing a photo of a mid-19th century alumna with a current student imitating the formal portrait style of the earlier era.
The feature story, written by a St. Mary’s English professor, is a poetic essay conveying how the school’s history and location affects students and teachers today:
“We come together as students and teachers in classrooms and laboratories and studios, but the lessons to be learned at St. Mary’s are also embedded, like geological strata, in the topography itself. Simply being here is an education, provided that we attend to what this place can teach us.”
The original plan was to run the story alongside a timeline showing highlights of St. Mary’s College through the years, but the piece’s opening paragraph cried out for photography to evoke the spirit of the place and literally illustrate the sites the author describes:
“I’m standing on the bluff at the edge of the cemetery overlooking Church Point, peering down through the trees toward the cross at the water’s edge. At my back, beyond Trinity Church, lies the campus of St. Mary’s College of Maryland. This spot, more than any other, reminds me that I teach at a place defined by a double confluence: a coming together of land with water and past with present.”
We hired photographer Howard Korn to spend a morning at the location shooting landscapes. His striking images lead off the story, with the timeline now enhancing the narrative throughout the magazine’s center. Editor Lee Capristo notes: “Seeing his images laid into the design of the magazine was a delightful surprise in more ways than one. First was the aesthetics; second was the discovery — in one of the photos, a tombstone featured the artwork of Hans Schuler, a famous Baltimore sculptor. Schuler did several commissions for St. Mary’s City, Trinity Church, and our St. Mary’s institution in the early 20th century.”
The piece’s opening paragraph cried out for photography to evoke the spirit of the place and literally illustrate the sites the author describes.
An essay written by junior Alex Bird, the issue’s cover model, reinforces the idea that St. Mary’s history has a profound impact on a student’s experience living and learning on this historic campus. The school’s founders intentionally created an institution that would reflect the core principles upon which Maryland was created—religious tolerance, accessibility, and the importance of maintaining an open mind. Alex understands that he is part of “an experiment in freethinking that has always been evolving and continues to do so.”
“I’ve gotten lots of praise on the issue from faculty, staff and alums. Two [alums] said they read it from cover to cover the moment they saw it. Thanks to you and Elizabeth for partnering on this special issue and for creating a layout that is as captivating as our history. I’m proud of the issue.”
— Lee Capristo, Editor, The Mulberry Tree
Read other case studies from our Editorial series:
• Magazines: First Impressions
• Magazines: Making Covers Memorable
• Editorial Case Study No.1: St. John’s College, The College Magazine
• Editorial Case Study No.2: New Jersey Institute of Technology, NJIT Magazine
• Editorial Case Study No.3: Messiah College, The Bridge Magazine
• Editorial Case Study No.4: Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, ONE Magazine
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