One design feature we've added to the enhanced Chicago Tribune that debuted this week is a woodcut image tucked into our Page 1 nameplate. A series of Chicago-themed illustrations evoking a sense of the history of the city and the newspaper will rotate in that space.
The inspiration was the 150th anniversary illustration used in 1997 (that's it in the corner of this post), showing the Tribune Tower surrounded by ornate scrollwork and elements of Chicago's growth over the years.
The new etchings were designed by Steven Noble, a freelance illustrator. From a list of about 50 icons across Chicago and the suburbs, Managing Editor Jane Hirt chose the first set: the skyline, the Picasso at Daley Center, the Wrigley Building, the Water Tower, Buckingham Fountain, and an L train. We hope to add others later on.
These sorts of images in the Tribune nameplate actually date back to the early days of the paper.
If you look at some of our old nameplates, you’ll see hand-drawn etchings of, for example, one of our printing presses (we were quite proud of it, apparently) as well as other cityscapes (one with a giant eagle in the foreground).
Editor Gerry Kern wanted us to honor our history in the new design and asked us to present some ideas on how to do that. We studied some old papers and came up with a modern take on the woodcut idea to represent the deep roots our paper has in the city.
On Wednesday and Thursday, that illustration was a representation of Chicago architecture that defines the city skyline. Many liked it. A few had questions about the scale and perspective of the skyline.
"The illustration is an artist’s representation, not meant to be photo-realistic," said Joe Knowles, Associate Managing Editor for Editing and Presentation.
To make everything fit and read legibly, Steven had to take some license with the scale and perspective. For further context, I also touched base with Architecture Critic Blair Kamin.
"The woodcut at the center of the Tribune's new nameplate is precisely articulated and strongly brands the paper as a local institution by reproducing the images of iconic Chicago skyscrapers. I'm particularly pleased to see one of my favorite Chicago towers, the X-braced John Hancock Center, an extraordinary synthesis of blue-collar brawn and black-tie elegance, assume pride of place at the center of the logo," Blair said.
He also noticed the rearrangement of the buildings, and raised his own questions about the placement and selection of the buildings. (The Aon Center, for instance, isn't there.) Chicago has lots of distinctive skyscrapers, he said, and he'd like to see more of those featured in the skyline image.
There'll be more woodcuts featured in the weeks ahead. Keep an eye out.
-- James Janega, Trib Nation manager