James Hunter: Boardgames are beautiful

James Hunter


In week 3 of Autumn term, we were joined by editorial designer and co-founder of Senet magazine James Hunter. In this session, James talked about his editorial design industry experience as well as his decision to co-found Senet magazine, based off of his passion for boardgames and fantasy games.

Graduation and Early Career

After graduating from Falmouth University in 2010 with a degree in Graphic Design James was adamant on not wanting to work for a traditional branding agency. James worked at the Guardian newspaper where he loved the “buzz of the newsroom”, which led to his work as an editorial designer for the Times newspaper, where the majority of James’ work revolved around early prototypes of the Times app, editorial design of the daily newspaper and their magazine. The daily deadlines of work to be completed was exciting for James, as it reminded him of university with the deadlines set for him as a student, a work ethic that all University of Reading students could use!

James guided students through more of his career, ranging from the Sunday Times to Frettabladid (Iceland’s most popular newspaper). However, James felt much more drawn to designing magazines and decided to become a freelance designer. Learning about the potential flexibility you have as a designer to pursue a freelance career from originally working as a corporate designer was an enlightening detail to learn about for students.

‘I was kind of being defined as a newspaper designer but I really wanted to design magazines’ – James Hunter

SENET Magazine

The highlight of James’ lecture were his 40 thoughts behind making a magazine and the genre of SENET revolving around his passion for boardgames. There were many important points within the selection, but there were a few that stood out for students. Point 20 emphasised reading the copy, as an editorial designer we are serving the reader so by reading the copy constantly will help designers in linking their work to the copy. Point 31 stated that “you are only as good as your last issue”, which taught students that as soon as one piece of work has been completed, it’s more important to focus on the next big project.

Issue 1 of SENET magazine

Source: https://senetmagazine.com/collections/back-issues/products/issue-1

SENET is a collaborative project made by James and his other colleagues who help to produce, design and sell the magazine. It is focused on boardgames and the fantasy genre, the aim of the magazine is to appeal to those who already have a passion for boardgames, while also inviting a new audience by producing appealing magazine designs.


Issue 5 of SENET magazine 

Source: https://senetmagazine.com/products/issue-5-summer-2021

‘I’ve always loved magazines and always read them’ James Hunter


The key points James regarded as essential for editorial/magazine design aided students in understanding what is important about designing for a specific audience, as well as how to be a successful freelance designer. James showed students that one’s passions can be pursued in their future careers and how working with a team of designers helps strive towards achieving tasks for deadlines.

‘James’ insight into the world of magazine design and detailed, linear description gave an engaging look into his experiences starting up a successful, regular document in printed media.’ – Part 2 student

‘Was very informative and particularly relevant for the TY3DP3 which we’re doing at the minute. Also super insightful about how to go about setting up a magazine.’ – Part 3 student