The MNMO Look

Every couple of weeks, I bump into someone who regales me with the compliment, “Boy, the magazine is really looking great these days!”

While I take such kudos personally—holding my head a little higher, puffing out my chest a bit—I’ve also come to realize that I’m only partly responsible for the finished package. Often, such compliments on the “look” of the magazine are meant quite literally: visually, it’s stunning.

Minnesota Monthly has long been blessed with great art directors, and the current crop of designers is no exception. They not only grasp what makes a quality photograph or arresting illustration, they also understand storytelling—how words and images need to cooperate and cohabitate on the page. More over, our art directors actually read the stories that appear in the publication (which, I can assure you, is not the industry standard).

MNMO art director Kirsten Mortensen’s skills can be seen firsthand in this issue: she drew the maps that appear in “Make a Difference: Shop Locally.” But usually her designs go un-bylined—she regularly designs departments and features, including our recent story on the Wellstone crash. “I like the challenge of the job,” she says. “Every story is a puzzle. It’s the designer’s job to make the pieces work.”

Designer Jeremy Nelson has worked on a number of different magazines. A dedicated bicyclist and traveler, Nelson says Minnesota Monthly gives him a chance to showcase many of the places he’s visited. “Our fall drives feature was a favorite of mine because I’ve done a lot of those trips—the North Shore, Red Wing,” Nelson says.

Crafting each month’s cover is the job of Rob Johnson, who has served as the magazine’s chief creative director for the last two years. “I like the overall variety of MNMO,” he says. The chance to work with talented artists like St. Paul illustrator Jeff Nelson, who designed this month’s cover, adds to the allure of the work. “I saw Jeff’s stuff at Birdhouse,” Johnson says (see “Best New Restaurants”), “and I knew we had to try it.” Inspiration, as any true creative knows, can strike at any time.

Joel Hoekstra, Editor
Facebook: jhoek70
Twitter: @mnmoeditor


John Abernathy, the photographer for this month’s “Best New Restaurants” feature, has been in the food photography business for 15 years. He credits his dad, who is also a photographer (with an insatiable love for food) for his interest in the trade. Abernathy currently lives in Minnetonka. His work has also been featured in such publications as Real Food, Drinks, the New York Times, and Money magazine.

Jephemera is the fancy-shmancy name of Jeff Nelson Illustration. Nelson specializes in creating hand-lettered signs and chalkboard art. In his spare time, he also enjoys drawing maps and sea monsters. His handiwork can be seen both on the cover of the Demember 2012 issue as well as page 56 of the December 2012 issue, which features the mural he made for Birdhouse. He currently lives in St. Paul with his wife, Amy, and their three children.

James Kloiber just recently moved to Minneapolis. He spent four years at art school learning to draw before he fell into graphic design. From there, he began producing music posters, publishing magazines, designing newspapers, and supplying photography. He has shown his art in gallery shows and museums across the country, and did the illustration for “Last Word,” page 130 of the December 2012 issue.


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