Design Army: Crossing Boundaries in Magazine Design

The following appeared in the Fall 2016 Issue of HOW Magazine, in which all winners of the HOW Promotion & Marketing Design Awards were featured. If you want a shot at seeing your work in the Fall 2017 issue, enter your promotion design by extended deadline April 24!


Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is one of the oldest and most prestigious art schools in the country. When approached to help unite MICA’s 19 graduate programs through shared content, Design Army developed and designed a semiannual magazine to connect students, allowing them to share ideas, news and art. Designed to take readers on a creative journey, the inaugural issue of Commotion includes layouts with bright pops of color, dynamic typography and custom illustrations.

19377-HOW-Promo-120x240“The typography is killer,” says HOW Promotion & Marketing Design Awards judge Scott Maney, chief creative officer of Breakaway. [The project was recognized for Outstanding Achievement in the only competition that specifically recognizes outstanding promotion design work.] “It’s Art Deco. It’s Modern. It’s hipster. It’s brilliant. It also put me into a jealous rage. I can’t do that kind of work. But I can admire it. And I admire the ever-living F out of it.”

The name of the magazine comes from the belief that artists and designers create through exploration and investigation, taking inspiration from vast and varied sources; the process can be chaotic, noisy and confusing, but it’s always rewarding. And sometimes, designers are deliberately brought to situations to rethink and disrupt in order to energize.

Senior art director and designer Mariela Hsu says that in addition to the one-month turnaround time for the first issue, the biggest challenge was working within a grid and using the same fonts—yet always reinventing within these guidelines. “We kind of created design boundaries but end up crossing them each issue,” she says.

Creative director Pum Lefebure says she enjoyed “being able to push a design further and having a client that’s willing to go for the ride. I am sure the future issues of Commotion will be even better.”


TITLE Commotion Magazine | DESIGN FIRM Design Army, Washington, DC; | CREATIVE TEAM Pum Lefebure, Jake Lefebure, creative directors; Mariela Hsu, senior art director/designer | CLIENT Maryland Institute College of Art

Related: Pum Lefebure talks about Design Army’s trajectory


Design Army’s Pum Lefebure will be at HOW Design Live this May.

Register today to ensure you have a seat in her session!