Case Study 4:
Editorial Design

Waltz Magazine

How can you use typography to hear music in a magazine?

Waltz Magazine is designed to attract younger audiences to Toronto’s classical music scene by challenging the ability for typography and images to boldly express rhythm and melody.

By using expressive typography and unconventional ways of applying content in the magazine’s grid system, it aims to deliver information to the audience that mimics the way one would listen to music.

Research Exploration

With the help from a writer for Toronto’s The Whole Note Magazine, I analyzed their magazine’s content and design of the articles, news, and listings. This content within this magazine was ideal because as a free monthly magazine, it has a general target audience and talks about the local classical music scene of Toronto.

After analyzing the magazine, I also got a tour of University of Toronto’s Music Department. I got to take photos of different music practice rooms, halls, and even the music library. Since I did not have a background in classical music, I wanted to get the full experience in what a typical day might be like for a music student.

Photos taken in U of T’s Music Department

This research helped me understand the partcular niche that classical music has, and this inspired me to want to present this niche to a larger audience through my magazine.

Process: Inspiration & the Grid

I was really inspired by the blocks of different pitches and tones that sound engineers are able to visualize using music visualization software. I wanted the content of the magazine to function like these blocks so that not only do they deliver information, but express rhythmic qualities.

Visuals created by music visualization software.

For the magazine’s spec board, I designed a grid system that provided great flexibility and structure. This was important as it made the design of all pages cohesive. Below is the grid system I used for the Waltz Magazine.

Expressing rhythm onto the spec board.

The grid system was like the musical staffs on sheet music, and the text and images were the music notes.

While listening to classical music, I placed blocks onto the spec board to express the kind of beats and rhythmic intervals I felt. With this experiment I got a sense of how I wanted to design the flow and layout of the magazine.


Printed magazine on toned paper

Preview of spreads

Digital version of Waltz Magazine

In the end, I received recognition in the Applied Arts Student Design Awards. This project taught me to not just begin my research for a project by reading articles about it, but to also go out into the city to explore the kind of audience and community this would impact. Along the way, I also got to meet great musicians that I designed posters for.