During 21 years of publication, Baseline has become the leading international magazine about type and typography.
It began life in 1979, published by the graphics arts products manufacturer, Letraset. It was originally intended as mainly a vehicle to promote new typeface designs, made available under licence to typesetting system manufacturers. Published ‘when available material allowed’, Baseline nevertheless gained an immediate reputation despite only appearing on average once a year for its first 10 years of existence. Its editorial content, despite the obligatory typeface promotion, struck a chord with the typographic community, because of its objective, and informed approach.
An international team of consultants guaranteed a ‘global’ input. Later replaced by an editorial advisory board, this international aspect gained readers, and, later, subscribers. The first issue was designed and edited by Mike Daines, with subsequent early numbers being produced by a mix of Letraset’s internal studio and commissioned designers. Among those who contributed to Baseline’s early development were Darrell Ireland, Ed Cleary, Mo Leibowitz and Milton Glaser. Erik Spiekermann edited and designed issues 6 and 7, notable for some early in-depth analysis of type design for the then new technologies of laser and dot matrix printers.
Banks and Miles, London were commissioned to design the first full colour issue, number 8, still in A4 format, in 1986, while Mike Daines, retained by Letraset as consultant, provided continuity of approach to content.
Content remained strong, with features such as Desert Island Type, where design personalities as diverse as Sir Terence Conran, Paul Smith, Tibor Kalman and Ralph Steadman selected their favourite typographic ephemera. Layout became more lavish as Newell and Sorrell extemporised, and design became increasingly experimental.
Appointed by Letraset International, Hans Dieter Reichert joined the magazine in 1993 and to worked as art director alongside editor Mike Daines. With a new issue, number 17, in the planning, both decided for an holistic approach and gave the magazine a more rigourous and coherent appearance. By this time Esselte Letraset, facing extinction through technology and mismanagement, had tired of the exercise. This, despite a good number of subscribers, an increasing reputation for content and a developing relationship with internationally known writers.
In 1995, Hans Dieter Reichert and Mike Daines became the publishers, by buying Baseline from Letraset. Becoming joint editors, they undertook to maintain editorial, design and production values, and to fulfil the obligations to subscribers.
The first issue from the new company, Bradbourne Publishing Limited, number 19, appeared in the summer of 1995. Proclaiming no new manifesto, but with a commitment to Baseline’s consistent themes the magazine was reborn. The publishers wrote: ‘Typographic personalities, typographic opinions and ideas, at the heart of our subject matter, just as they have been in previous Baselines, and just where we intend to place them in our future plans’. The first website, www.baselinemagazine.com, appeared in 1995. Little did we know what effect the ‘world wide web’ would have on the publishing industry.
During the transition, Baseline’s advisory board which included Alan Fletcher, Colin Brignall and David Ellis helped steer the editorial content. The Bradbourne Publishing issues have contained an electric mix of articles, with an increasing proportion of research based pieces. While it has always been original, typographic ‘scoops’ have helped to retain a high level of reader loyalty, some inspired by board members, such as the discovery of McKnight Kauffer’s ‘missing’ designs, initiated by Alan Fletcher.
The magazine has continued to develop, with internationally known contributors, including Beryl McAlhone, Ken Garland, Steven Heller, Jeremy Myerson, Friedrich Friedl, Robin Kinross, Chris Burke, Philip Thomson, Arnold Schwartzman and Rick Poynor. Its regularity of publication, three to four times a year cemented its position as a serious venture.
After 12 years with Bradbourne Publishing Limited, Mike Daines, founder and long serving co-editor decided to step down. He worked on Baseline magazine up to issue 50 and with his valuable input over the years has helped to established the magazine as an international first rate periodical for typography and graphic design matters.
With the change in management we decided that it was time to change the visual appearance of the magazine. Since its first publication, 28 years ago, Baseline has undergone a number of changes. The materials, size, cover, the jacket and banner gave the magazine its distinct appearance during the last 12 years. Logo, grid, editorial style and typefaces formed its visual structure. With issue 52, the design team of HDR Visual Communication, undertook successfully to re-design the magazine. Key elements such as logo, the masthead of the magazine, editorial typefaces, grid structure were carefully considered. The various paper materials such as coated and uncoated and special surfaces play an integrated part in the new concept. A new user friendly Baseline magazine website with the latest software technology is on schedule to be live towards the end of 2007. It’s web address is: www.baselinemagazine.com
In order to recognise emerging talents and to help to discover historic, graphic treasures a new team of editorial contributors has joined. These are distinguished designers, educators, authors and design critics Ken Garland (UK), Steven Heller (USA), Arnold Schwartzman (USA), Helmut Schmid (Japan) and, for our educational section of the magazine. Prof. Ian McLaren (UK).
With all these new changes in place, Baseline will remain dedicated to its readership and will continue to produce a publication to the high editorial, design and production standards for which the magazine is renowned.