In this project, Miami graphic design students collaborated with graduate creative writing students from Professor Ann Fisher-Wirth’s course at the University of Mississippi. Together they created the first issue of a hypothetical new poetry journal. Ole Miss students first wrote an original body of work and then Miami students developed a poetry journal around the content. The central theme for this new journal was the concept of “connections.” In addition to publication design, Miami students also explored mass customization. Each student had to develop a pragmatic system for mass producing but also individualizing each copy.
From the project brief:
“Publications are traditionally mass produced. Each copy is exactly like the next. Added value comes into play only when an author signs a copy, thereby making it unique. Recently, designers have begun to produce publications which are both mass produced and custom one off pieces. For example, Daniel Eatock’s monograph includes an area on the spine for his fingerprint. Eatock went to the warehouse storing his book and applied the fingerprint to each copy himself. Each copy is therefore unique. Copies that were not fingerprinted could be brought to book signings so that Eatock could literally add his individual touch. Designer Luna Maurer designed a publication in which the page numbers were written in by hand in charcoal. Although the rest of the publication appeared to be a traditional mass produced book, the handwritten page numbers added an individual quality to each copy. In addition to the fact that they were written by hand, the charcoal smeared as the book was handled leading to more customization. In both cases, the human touch fought the anonymity of computer generated design.”
Ole Miss students: Emileigh Barnes, Julie Ann Brandt, Wendy Buffington, Jessica Comola, Joshua Davis, Paul S. Dean, Tim Earley, Kevin Fitchett, Dorothy Knight, Michael Martin Shea, Travis Smith, Joe Zendarski
A sample of the resulting journals
Sticky Mucky Gooey, designed by Adam Cassidy

My mass customization for my journal was to put honey in one of the spreads of the book. If this book was being mass produced, the honey (or some other sticky substance) would be placed in a different spread each time.
Synapse, designed by Eric Villareal

Each copy of the poetry journal comes with a unique strip from a photographic print of one of the photos that the book features. This strip can be used as a bookmark. Also, the strip can point the reader to a specific section of the book, as the reader can find the photo in which their strips image was taken from. That way, the reader can interact with the book at a deeper level and each copy has specific sections or poems in the book that are implied to have special meaning to each specific reader.

Hinge, designed by Katie Scott

My mass-customoization was that I tore one of the strips off and placed it in a random spread. This forces the reader to try to place it somewhere and the meaning of each poem they try to place it in hinges on their forced connection!

Junction, designed by Rachel Fraleigh

Junction is kept closed with a purple ribbon band studded in unique gold buttons. The colors are symbolic of the contrasting colors, imagery, and content that runs throughout the journal. This ribbon gives the user the chance to personally interact with the concept of junction by determining which button holes to use and how to form the relationship of where two things are joined. This parallels the natural, dynamic connections that are represented in purple throughout the journal and is contrasted with the gold buttons that represent the more rigid, static connections of the buttons sewn into the ribbon at specific places.
Stitch, designed by Brittany Stechschulte


Flock, designed by Emily Schwegman

My mass customization was the inclusion of bird stickers in the book. The reader could take the stickers and place them wherever they wanted in the book and create new flocks of birds to fit the way they interpreted the poems.
Link, designed by Jenna Samuels

My mass customization is a chainlink wire bookmark that is folded in half, so it can clip a group of pages together, thus linking multiple different poems. The bookmark ends will be inserted in different poetry spreads for each copy of the book.
Gap, designed by Arianne Krekeler

My mass customization: the band that goes around the front cover of the book can be any one of the 12 colors that appear throughout the book and where GAP falls on the cover is different for each color as well.
Drift, by Jenny Miller

My mass customization is the slip case for my journal. In the interior of the book, abstract shapes pull away from each other revealing white space. This white space relates to the amount of connection described in the poems. The slip case maintains the same form as the shapes found in the interior. Therefore, the edge of every case will be different, which will expose different amounts of white on the cover of every book. Every cover will then have a different level/type of “connection.”

Saudade, by Paige Hake

For my journal, Saudade, my general mass customization idea is to have a different type of pressed flower pasted in the cut-out window at the beginning of the journal where the table of contents is located. After considering it in more detail, I think that I would keep the roses the same but have different colors of pressed roses, since roses come in so many different colors and it would better tie in with the imagery of the book. The idea is for the reader to have a foreshadowing of how the book will end (with the dead flowers) and to go along with the cover of the book which shows the picture of the dead flowers to tie in with the word “Saudade,” which is a feeling of loss or incompleteness.
Root & Branch, designed by Molly Stiebler

For my mass customization element of my book, I incorporated my own hand-writing. The book focuses on relationships under the lens of “Root&Branch” in which I interpreted the Root to mean “pain beneath the surface” in a relationship. Thus, all the poems with a sad tone, describing more broken relationships are cast in the Root section. Likewise, poems with a more upbeat message are in the Branches section, which I interpreted to mean “fruit that is to come.” While dividing the poems however, I realized that many of the works could fall in either place, depending on how one interprets them. The last page in my book shows an organic image of what looks like a root. Beneath it, I have written a message. The reader, however, must turn the book upside down in order to read what it is that I’ve written: “Roots can become branches…it’s all in how you look at it.” It’s then when the reader realizes (once the book is turned over) that the root is actually a branch. It ends the book in an upbeat manner, instilling the message that hope exists for turning a relationship around.
Kon-ex-shon, designed by Chelsea Nauman

For my mass customization I stamped a puzzle piece mark on the poems I liked the most in the table of context and on the page numbers of those poems. For other books I would change the direction of the stamp mark or mark somewhere else on the poem. I also included a puzzle piece that represents how people can continue to make connections in their life.

Grasp, designed by Erika Chitwood

My mass customization was to add actual ink prints of my fingerprints on a certain poem in the journal, going along with my “grasp” title as well as the handprint grasping the cover of the journal.
Knot, designed by Julia Hustedt

For my mass customization I chose to put an insert inside the last page of the book that gave the names of the knots used to represent the authors, each insert has a hole punch, just like the whole book, that is tied with one of the knots found on the card. For example, in my turned in book I used a slip knot, the idea would be that it would be a quick customization, but a unique one for each book.

Affinity, designed by Amy Lewin

My mass customization idea was to include a pull tab on one of the spreads. I created a semi-circular tab that indicated which poem I wanted my readers to look to first. My book is about connections and reaching for something, so I figured a literal reach to a different poem in each customized book would reflect the meaning.