The many faces of San Diego Magazine over the years

Have you ever moved furniture and it looks like you’ve freed up a Montana amount of extra square footage you didn’t know you had? Have you ever had a haircut so good that you felt like your hair and bone structure finally got along?

I hope you feel the same about this issue of San Diego Magazine. We refreshed the space. I went for a cut. New logo, new layout, new evolution of our storytelling house. It was led by editor Gillian Flynn, art director Samantha Lacy and national designer Dan Bishop.

The idea? Let the art breathe. That’s what a magazine is: storytelling as an artistic project. A four-part harmony of words, art, photos and design. Neither party should intimidate the other.

If you think about the different forms of media, a newspaper is mostly a legion of very important words, with photos taking precedence over the simple fact that paper is designed for efficiency, not art. In digital media, the written word is subjugated in favor of very active visuals.

Fall Arts Preview

A preview of our new and improved Fall Arts Preview calendar in this month’s print edition of the magazine

In magazines, you are given a brilliant color palette to play with. Filling it mostly with piles and piles of gray words is like forming a rock band with six guitarists and no other sound. If you go too far the other way and load it up with pictures and art, you’re a picture book.

There is a balance. This is us, finding ours.

As a writer, it hurts my ego to admit that the words, as beautiful as they are, aren’t the only important thing. We felt that SDM lacked wild art, photography and design – not giving the proper square footage for the city’s visual artists. We felt the need to create something you would feel compelled to watch. Get yourself a little visually drunk. We want art that makes you feel the stories of this city.

Don’t worry, writing matters more than ever. You’re going to start seeing long stories with thousands of words that you can get lost in, build a relationship with. We’re lucky to work with some of the best writers in town, and we’re going to give them space.


Our redesigned pages give us more room to breathe, more room to take in the beautiful sights of our city

Needless to say, this is our annual arts issue. The city’s artistic moment that made international headlines this year was the massive $105 million reimagining of MCASD in La Jolla by one of the world’s most talented female architects, Annabelle Selldorf (see feature picture, page 72). Having an arts complex like this attracts international creative forces, which then raise the next generation and new voices (“Next Up,” page 68).

On the cover is what MCASD will show us next, an icon’s work on America’s obsession with pop culture and stardom. The play, “Men Don’t Pass Girls Who Wear Glasses,” is by Alexis Smith. For decades, she’s explored this country’s tabloid heartland in a smart, fun, and accessible way. The MCASD exhibition, “The American Way,” will be the Californian artist’s first retrospective in 30 years (story, page 35).

As San Diego Magazine, this cover expresses both the history of our creative work and its future. Thirteen years ago, Gillian and I worked on another magazine. For our issue on the arts, we chose this exact image for our cover. We stood back, amazed, amazed. It looks like Alexis created this piece as a giveaway for the magazines – striking and beautiful, while also taking a swipe at the market idea of ​​beauty and lust. So we decided to give him a second life as a magazine star. It’s a nod to the work we’ve done, are doing, will do.

And that job is to create the most inspiring vehicle possible for artists like the ones you’ll find in this issue, and the ones we haven’t yet found.


Troy Johnson

Editor and Content Director