Managing Editor Jessica Sevey Explains the Two Lines Redesign

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With Issue 25, Two Lines has got a whole new look and feel. The journal is now two-color throughout, with pullquotes, redesigned titles, and a whole lot more. To help show off some of the changes we’re presenting this interview with Managing Editor Jessica Sevey.

You can purchase Issue 25 right here. And subscriptions start at just $15.00.


What made Two Lines decide to redesign the journal?

We’ve wanted to add color to the journal for a while—to make the text stand out but also as another way to differentiate the languages. This specific design came from discussing how we could distinguish each poem and excerpt in a creative way. We started working with a talented designer, Isabel Urbina Peña, who specializes in typefaces (she has designed her own)—and so the titles of the pieces are one of the first things you notice, the unique design and layout of the type.

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What are the specific challenges of redesigning a multilingual journal of translation?

We wanted to maintain the en face layout for the original language and English translation, and though some interesting ideas for layout came up in the redesign—one idea was to overlay the English translation over the original language, for instance—we knew that we wanted to be conscious of the readability of each piece. It was important to balance the new design with functionality, making sure each excerpt and poem was presented as it was originally meant to be read. We were conscious of preserving the original spacing, line breaks, and line lengths of poems, for instance, rather than trying to create a perfect alignment across the languages.

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I think readers will notice in particular the use of color on the pages: the colored text, the blocked color in the interior margins, and occasional pages that are solid blue. What was your thinking in pulling that color throughout?

It was clear that adding a second color would be a powerful way to highlight the original language text—and we chose blue to complement the colors on the cover. Setting the original languages in another color brings attention to the visual beauty of the type; language itself becomes a design element, something that the designer played up with the large whimsical titles. Blue pages and other elements were added to break up the text a bit, set off the pieces, and bring a sense of elegant playfulness.

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I love the cover. It seems to be three things at once. It conveys movement, mystery and a crisp palette. Who is the artist and how did you choose the image?

The cover artist is Jeff Clark (Quemadura), with whom we’ve worked for some time now. Jeff always submits clever, original designs that are his interpretation of the mood or feel of the issue. In this current interpretation he has created a collage that is meant to evoke the nude figure (with the figure’s elbow) in Jean-Luc Nancy’s “Nu énuméré” (“Nude Enumerated”—translated by Charlotte Mandell) in this issue.

Finally, what’s your personal favorite thing about the new look of Two Lines 25?

I’m ecstatic about adding color, and I think the blue really makes this issue come alive! Also, the designer added a vertical bar of characters and letters from each language (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Bulgarian, Norwegian, Russian, Hebrew, and others) along each page—to serve as a visual guide for the reader. I’ve never seen anything like this. I don’t think there’s another literary magazine out there that’s presenting the visual intricacies of different languages in such a captivating way.

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