The Indiana Magazine Highlighting its State’s Oft-Overlooked Architecture and Design Luminaries

The compact journals have become collector’s items for design aficionados and fans of the printed word alike.
graphic design magazine Commercial Article

Spread from Commercial Article‘s tenth edition, which focuses on Indiana logos and graphic design. Courtesy Commercial Article

Brothers Jon and James Sholly are founders of the Indianapolis-based graphic design studio Commercial Artisan, so when they launched Commercial Article, an offshoot publication, in 2005, they understandably saw it as a side project or a natural extension of their work.

James says he and Jon first envisioned the magazine as a way to reach clients and generate new business. “We thought of it as a self-promotional piece for our studio, but we were uncomfortable talking about ourselves,” he recalls. As they began to explore potential subjects, they looked to their fellow local creators and gradually embarked on a mission to highlight Indiana’s oft-overlooked design luminaries. Says James, “Some of the first people we profiled were graphic designers.”

As the brothers continued their research, they realized that there were even more interesting stories about the local design scene waiting to be told. “Most people don’t think of Indiana when they think of design,” James explains. “But we’ve realized there’s a rich history here that needs to be preserved and documented.”

James takes pride in the fact that Commercial Article—the special tenth edition of which features a survey of Indiana’s notable logos and symbols—is bringing the creations of lesser-known artists to a wider audience. Each issue also allows the duo to showcase their own know-how as they play with innovative formats. For their study of fashion designer Norman Norell, for example, they fashioned an accordion-fold booklet, while their review of Marshall Studios opens up to become a full-size poster.

Sold through the office’s website and at a few local shops, the compact journals have become collector’s items for design aficionados and fans of the printed word alike. The endeavor is largely self-funded, and although Commercial Article appears once a year on average, it serves as a continual source of inspiration for the Sholly brothers. “These are modest publications, but this is a passion project for us,” says James. “We fall in love with each one of our subjects, and we hope that our readers will too.”

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Categories: Arts + Culture, Design