Blood Spore - Magazine Layout
Blood Spore is an article about the life of Steven Pollock, a physician and pioneering mycologist. The article chronologies the years he spent growing psychedelic mushrooms, working as a 'doctor', and his murder, as well as the effect that his work had on the mycologist and psychedelic mushroom communities. The story of Steven Pollock happens in the late 1970's, when the psychedelic mushroom craze had begun to take off in earnest.
Pollock studied the mushrooms, discovered new species, and after his murder, the largest psychedelic mushroom bust to date in North America happened in his 'office'. He kept meticulous notes, and even now, researching for this layout, there isn't much know about the rare strains of mushrooms he found. I wanted to capture the serious tone that he took with his work; he was certain that it would change mankind.
I used photos of mushrooms that were taken with film and then layered an indigo colour over them. I loved the graininess of the photos, and the colour brought it out even more. The indigo comes from the mushroom Pollock first discovered, which had a bruised indigo colour around the gills, and the cap was a cream colour. The page size of this work is A4. The article is about 12,500 words, including footnotes and interviews, so using a large page size helped to cut down on the length.
It also created enough space that fitting in footnotes, (some about 300 words) less of a challenge. I wanted to convey the information of the article, which might not be a typical read, in a visually compelling manner, one that would draw the reader in because of the layout. I set the body copy in Caecilia LT Std, which is readable at very small sizes, and was a nice nod to the time of the typewriter and its square letterforms. The titles, folios and pull-quotes are set in ITC Benguiat Std, a beautiful font that brought a touch of humility and human interest back to a very technically set piece.
Blood Spore was an interesting read. I have a personal interest in mushrooms, and I found this to be an extension that I hadn't considered. In researching psychedelic mushrooms, I learned that not much is really known besides the chemical compounds that make them psychedelic. There are strains of mushrooms that have next to no information about them, but are attributed to Pollock's work. Because of the ban on psychedelics, much of his work was destroyed.
Mushrooms are as complex as organisms come, disappearing and appearing seemingly at random, containing chemicals and microorganisms that appear no where else on earth. It is a shame that more isn't known, but honestly, the affects of hallucinogenics aren't something to sneeze at. This project brought me back to researching and layouts, my two favorite things. (P.S. This project pre-dates Stranger Things!)