RE: Design

In his nearly two decades working in magazine art departments, Matthew Bates ’96—now the group creative director for 16 titles at Active Interest Media in Boulder, Colorado—has helped a dozen publications reimagine themselves. “Magazines are never done,” he explains. “They’re living, breathing, and constantly evolving. Every issue is a new challenge.” His most recent project? You’re holding it. Starting nearly a year ago, Bates—who majored in magazine journalism in the School of Journalism and Communication—spent nights, weekends, and even vacation time collaborating with OQ art director JoDee Stringham and the magazine’s staff to reconceive this publication. “We tried to capture the unique culture of the university,” he explains. One of the biggest challenges: deciding on the color palette. “We wanted it to be more sophisticated than just a zillion shades of green and yellow, but pretty much every major color already has some Pac-12 team associated with it. We had to tread carefully.” 


Though Bates started college thinking he'd be a newspaper journalist, he's never published a story. But he's designed more than 100 covers for Backpacker magazine, where he was the art director from 2002 to 2003.

We found an issue of Flux Bates designed as a student in 1996. Check it out!

“When people find out I work at Backpacker, their first question is always, ‘Do you get free gear?’” Answer: Sometimes, but he’d get more if he were sample size. The second question: Do you get to travel a lot? “Not really, unless you count the Salt Lake City convention center, where the outdoor industry trade show happens twice a year. The art team doesn’t tend to go on trips as much. I did get to hike in the Central Andes in Chile a few years ago. That was pretty amazing.”

Bates grew up in Bend and Eugene, where he developed passions for hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, baseball, and Ducks football. Now he’s indoctrinating his sons, ages nine, seven, and four. “Watching them experience things for the first time is one of my favorite things in life,” he says.

—By Rachel Zuror