Today we’re sharing the bittersweet news that Duke University Press Journals Designer Sue Hall will retire this month after 23 years of working at the Press.
Sue has won numerous design awards for her work from the Association for University Presses (AUP) and the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ). Her most recent awards include the CELJ 2015 Award for Best Journal Design for the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, and the AUP 2017 Book, Jacket, and Journal Show awards for the interior and cover design for volume 67 of Archives of Asian Art and the cover design of volume 29 of Public Culture. She has contributed a chapter about journals design to Rich Hendel’s 2013 book, Aspects of Contemporary Book Design.
Sue began working at Duke University Press in 1995 and immediately started to work with editors all over the world to design and redesign their journals’ covers and interiors. She found the process of redesigning an existing journal or designing a new one from scratch to be a positive and synergistic one. In a previous interview with Sue and former Journals Designer Kelly Andrus, Sue explained the process of redesigning a journal: “I enjoy the redesign process because I feel like I’m collaborating with a couple of people. One is the original designer of the journal, because I try to retain the things I think are successful and workable. I like the idea of the redesign being an evolution and not just a sudden change. To make it feel like an evolution, it needs to have a sense of continuity.” She also believes that a complete reboot and overhaul of a journal’s design is sometimes needed to signal a change of direction in editorial mission or to reach a new audience.
miriam cooke, co-editor of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, shared her experience of redesigning the journal with Sue: “We had extraordinary conversations with Sue Hall about how to design the journal about things that never would have occurred to us. The care that every single page elicited from the design team was extraordinary. The way the journal looks externally is really important. What Duke does so well is to really work on the presentation of the journal and to make it change each time, which then becomes fun for the editors; it’s enormous fun.”
Over the years, editors have called attention to Sue’s work for being innovative, award-winning, superb, beautiful, gifted, and meaningful. She takes pride in the trust and teamwork that she has been able to build over the years with journal editors. “I’ve discovered that there are a lot of nice pluses, one of which is working with Sue Hall, the journals designer, who is a really important collaborator for us because so much of our creative journal is conveyed through the art,” Tom Sellar, editor of Theater magazine, shared about working with Sue. “Sue has a great eye and great instinct for the photo that will really pull you into an article or to a feature, or how to position a cover in such a way in that it is an utterly alluring object to pick up.”
Sue has been integral to the ability of the Journals Production team to embrace two decades of inevitable and necessary changes to publishing, the department, and our vendor processes and workflows. She has been part of a team that has kept Duke University Press at the forefront of journal production and design with her ability to innovate and keep up with a challenging and changing publishing industry.
Throughout her tenure at Duke University Press, Sue has mentored several designers, and her design aesthetic can be seen not just in journal covers and interior designs, but in our marketing materials and online presence. She was a part of the teams who developed the Press’s original web presence and our new brand identity, and enjoyed the different iterations of design that she participated in while working at the Press.
Sue will be retiring from Duke University Press to resume her freelance design company, Number Nine, which she had been running when she originally started to do freelance work for the Press. While we are sad to see Sue leave, we are so excited to continue to follow her career and wish her the best in her future endeavors!