Silica Magazine

Annual Publication /
Creative Director, Digital and Interactive Design, Creative Coding

2016-NOW /
NYC

I joined up with Editor-In-Chief Casey Halter (writer for POZ, VICE, Betaworks) and Managing Editor Shannon Lee (producer and production assistant for NOWNESS, David Byrne, Arielle De Pinto) to spearhead the first issue of Silica Magazine, an environmental, geographic and geologic magazine for the new digital era. I sought to carve out a niche for Silica's identity using proto-trend internet culture aesthetics, cutting-edge interactive multimedia, and pared-down editorial design.

Silicamag.com is the heart of the Silica brand ecosystem, which I designed and coded from the ground up using the static site framework Jekyll. The custom Silica codebase allows for lightweight, flexible and responsive interactive editorial designs that can be quickly tailor-made for the content.

The first issue of Silica Magazine focuses on lakes and freshwater reservoirs around the world. I wanted the art direction to reflects this, using aquatic designs as vessels for establishing context and enriching the thematic feeling. In one story, I worked with shader-specialist Bryan Ma in creating a real-time rendered water environment to serve as a backdrop for the music feature In Resurrection Bay, where the featured musician traveled to Alaska to record the sounds of melting glaciers. Elsewhere, in our atmospheric video feature NOBODIES, we produced a skate video paired with environmental reporting covering the state California's drying Salton Sea.

In the interactive 3D feature Stealing the Aral Sea, I patched together satellite data from NASA and the USGS in Cinema4D, designed a layout in Sketch, and using threejs, built a scrolling experience demonstrating how what was once the world's fourth largest lake has become a desert.

Our second issue, Homeland - focusing on the modern American landscape , was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter one year later. In addition to the digital mag, we produced our first print edition resulting in a sold-out 48-page limited run glossy which I also designed. The issue launch was held at Greenpoint's Java Studios, after which we were invited to a booth at 8ball zine fair, as well as to give a talk at Imprint Projects.

Silica Mag's primary positioning challenge is addressing the question "How can we make environmental reporting sexy and relevant?" We shed the tree-hugger trappings associated with environmental discourse and went with an edgy art-house look inspired by netart and zine culture. This goes along with our philosophy of "come for the art, stay for the science" which drives traffic and fulfills the non-profit's outreach goals.

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evander batson