Topaz Design Gives Illinois Times a Makeover

Contact: Sharon Whalen, associate publisher
217-753-2226, extension 137

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Dec. 23, 2003 — Illinois Times, the 28-year-old independent weekly serving Springfield and central Illinois, recently completed a redesign. The new look, which made its debut with IT’s Dec. 11-17 edition, changes the newspaper’s cover and regular front-of-the-book features.

“The goal was to give the newspaper a cleaner look, while doing a better job of showcasing the wide variety of stories we publish,” says editor Roland Klose.

IT Associate Publisher Sharon Whalen turned to veteran publications designer Katherine Topaz of Portland, Ore.-based Topaz Design.

After more than a decade with the alternative press, Topaz started her design consulting business in May 2000. Her other clients include Oklahoma Gazette and High Country News.

Her first task was retooling the newspaper’s popular arts and entertainment section. The new IT “Night & Day” section hit streets on Oct. 9.

With the rest of the redesign, IT had a number of objectives, Klose says. “We wanted our cover to do a better job of teasing stories. We wanted a table of contents that invited readers to explore the entire newspaper. We wanted a news section that offered more headlines. And we wanted a consistent and clean look throughout the newspaper.”

The new cover design includes additional teasers and art. The table of contents adds fuller descriptions of stories, as well as an editor’s note commenting on highlights in the newspaper. The news section has a regular format. New typefaces and body type are used throughout the publication. Topaz also gave the newspaper’s house ads a facelift.

Topaz worked directly with IT art director Nick Steinkamp and editorial designer Susan Rich in fine-tuning the final design.

“At first the design crew at IT was skeptical that they would have time in their production process to do the changes I was suggesting — especially when it came to spending more time on art direction,” Topaz says.

“My heart melted when the redesign launched. Not only did they look smarter and cleaner, but they admitted that production was easier and faster than it was before,” she adds. “Nothing is more satisfying than improving the processes while improving the look. It was a great project on many levels, but mostly because everyone was so open, optimistic and charged by the changes.”

Klose agrees. “We’re tickled with the result. We have a small staff, but the template Kat’s created gives us a professional ‘big-paper’ feel.”

Illinois Times has a free weekly circulation of 30,000. Founded in 1975, the newspaper is owned by Central Illinois Communications LLC. Fletcher Farrar is the newspaper’s publisher.

To see IT’s new covers, visit

For information on Topaz Design, go to

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