Today we officially debut our new cover. Those of you who get the magazine in the mail have already seen it. You may even have read the print version of “Behind the ‘Zine,” where I explain how Art Director Michelle-Renee convinced me it was time for a change.
Changing out a logo may not seem like a big deal, but each time we do it, it feels momentous. Like all growth steps, it comes with conflicting emotions — the excitement of a fresh look and future possibilities and a twinge of grief about one more closed chapter in our history.
I have a copy of every magazine we’ve ever published on a shelf in my home office. I go there to look at this impressive collection (243 magazines!) whenever I’m feeling discouraged about the ongoing, sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges that face the publishing industry today. It helps me focus on how far we’ve come and avoid fretting, at least temporarily, about hurdles that lie ahead.
Our very first cover was created by Peter Shikany of P.S. Studios in Phoenix. Peter, who opened his studio in 1989, the same year I was laying the groundwork to launch Raising Arizona Kids, has enjoyed enormous success providing innovative communication design services for a wide range of clients locally, nationally and internationally. He volunteered a great deal of his time and creative talent to help me in those early years and for that I will always be grateful.
Peter was also the creative force behind the next iteration of our cover. In my “From the Editor” column that month, I explained that the magazine was growing up.
“As we enter our third year of publication, we feel ready for a look that reflects our ‘coming of age,'” I wrote. We were delighted with Peter’s new approach and especially appreciated how it maintained the values we started with — our desire to create a warm, friendly, approachable place to share ideas about raising children — “while taking us to a more ‘grown up’ look.”
The next major design phase occurred about a year later, in May 1993, when we could finally afford to print the full magazine in color. I described the move using the metaphorical context of my youngest son David’s journey into reading. His teacher told me to celebrate his “baby steps” and not expect perfection right away. The magazine’s move into full color production was, to us, the “fulfillment of another developmental step.” (That was also the first year we took baby steps into radio and video work. I began programming a weekly radio interview show on KVRY 104.7 FM, and coordinated with longtime Valley media personality Heidi Fogelsong to program a parenting segment on Channel 3 called “Arizona’s Family Saturday.”)
Remember Keith Tkachuk? Then team captain for the Phoenix Coyotes, Keith and his family appeared on our first cover featuring a new logo designed by Jim Nissen of Tempe-based SW!TCH Studio. I’ll never forget the day we held a staff lunch at my house to celebrate our 10th anniversary. I introduced Jim, who presented his suggestions for a redesign.
“I guess I should have warned him,” I wrote. “The mothers and fathers who work together to publish this magazine each month have a very protective attititude about it. To each of us, I think, the magazine is ‘our baby.’ Each of us had a strong, visceral reaction to the proposed changes.” In the end, we reached agreement, “symbolic, I think, of the shared vision that has consistently sustained us this past 10 years.”
Fast forward to May 2003. We hired our first in-house art director, Sharon Vargas, who wanted to bring her own look to the magazine. Her first cover was shot at the Paradise Valley home of former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling and his wife Shonda, whom I’d met while doing volunteer work for her non-profit Shade Foundation, which works to educate families about skin cancer prevention.
Shonda gathered a number of Diamondbacks wives and kids for the shoot, which included an inside spread promoting sun-safe clothing. The cute little guy you see pictured is Jacob Gonzalez, son of former Diamondbacks left fielder Luis Gonzalez.
Something occurred to me as I looked through these old covers: Each new version surfaced in the spring. Something about the freshness of new growth spurs a deeply rooted human instinct that has many of us cleaning closets, organizing garages and wearing bright colors this time of year. Something about spring just makes you crave a makeover — and the excited, hopeful feeling that often comes with it.