With Karina Norton ’20 and Jenna Llorens-Blas ’19 looking over their shoulders and smoldering at readers as the two sport a floral aesthetic, the cover of Contrast’s Spring 2018 issue redefines the spring season altogether. Titled the “Love Edition,” this issue falls in a long line of innovative themes explored by Vassar’s arts and lifestyle magazine. Exploring themes of contrast, boundaries and time in its past three editions respectively, the bi-annual magazine is defined by the varying concepts it uses to highlight campus art and fashion. The launch of this particular issue took place on May 17, in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center during the weekly Late Night at the Loeb event—with cheese and fruit platters on which to nibble available as visitors picked up and browsed copies of the magazine.
The work within the pages of this issue ranges from interviews and op-ed articles on unconventional new dating trends in today’s world—including dating apps and sugar daddies—to traditional and modern love poetry, to art and fashion photography. The issue also plays with content by including a professor spotlight on Music Professor Justin Patch, as well as by looking at love in the context of health and wellness in one case and through the metaphor of a love game in another. The launch effectively highlights mystery and distortion in one piece while emphasizing the motif of spring in another.
Delving into the overarching theme of love, Editor-in-Chief Ellie Winter ’18 elucidated, “We wanted to explore the ways that the campus feels, expresses and understands love through fashion and writing.” In trying to examine the nuances of love as it can be conceptualized on Vassar’s campus, this particular issue remains faithful to the Contrast style by pushing the boundaries of Vassar’s artistic expression. As Winter further illuminated in the “Letter from the Editor” section of the magazine, “In this issue’s articles, we’re challenged to find love in new places and understand it through new lenses.”
While the high standard exhibited by this magazine remains consistent, this issue does boast the addition of more and varied editorial content. Winter enumerated some of the changes they made during the process of producing the magazine: “This time we have student and faculty interviews, think pieces and poetry that consider the theme from different angles. The photo shoots were gorgeous this time around too. Our photographers and models just get better every time.”
Contrast Creative Director Hannah Nice ’18, whose role involves keeping the group progressing and making major decisions after consulting the rest of the Executive Board—particularly the photo and style teams—further elaborated on the selection process of materials that would go on to be published: “I think that the collection of images chosen for this issue, and the manner in which they’ve been laid out, is unusually stunning. I edited down which images were used, which was a real challenge, since per spread, there was anywhere from 10 to 80 shots to choose from.”
Nice expressed remorse for the pieces that weren’t featured in the final product: “The fact that not all of the images could be used is a shame, because of all of the hard work that went into the issue by photographers, models, stylists and writers. Due to the limit in the page count, the Board is trying to add more life into our recently created blog [contrastmagazine.org]. This site will become a hub for the material that did not make it into the issue.”
With an elaborate Mood Board, an Artist Spotlight section sometimes featuring students and other times professionals, a Street Style section boasting a collection of urban looks by amateur photographers and a blog with a multitude of featured articles, Contrast’s website is as multidimensional as the published volumes of its magazine. In addition to this online platform, digital copies of all of Contrast’s issues—dating back to 2010—are available at issuu.com/vassarcontrast. Given their selection process, during which, as Winter elucidated, Contrast “leave[s] thousands of photos and words on the cutting room floor every cycle,” their online presence becomes a necessity in showcasing the effort invested in the magazine by all of their contributors and artists.
While the issue’s creation involves some difficult decisions, Nice looked at the more exciting aspects of how she personally related to the magazine’s creative journey: “The process was really fun! I’ve been obsessed with magazines since I was in middle school, as [is] evident in my bedroom’s decoration—I collaged the largest wall in my room with images from ‘Vogue,’ ‘Glamour,’ ‘Marie Claire,’ etc. So a lot of the things I came up with were things that had been brewing in my mind for a while.”
Nice further delved into how she felt about what they had to show for the semester’s work: “I’m super proud of it! I hope more people get involved with the org, as I think it’s unusually special, especially today, to have something you’ve put a ton of work into not only be published digitally, but also printed. But moreover, I hope everyone finds something that they can connect to in the issue.” Winter explicated in her “Letter from the Editor” regarding the team effort it took to bring the theme of love to their readers, “Befitting of the theme, this mag is the work of singularly talented people from across the campus, and I hope it’s half as fun to read as it has been to make.”