All posts by Mubashir Baweja

Creative Director 2016-2017 Associate Design Editor 2015-2016

Letters from us

I’m pretty bad at explaining myself. Once in an attempt to justify something I said, I told my roommates that I was “questioning the questioning the questioning.” While I don’t remember what I was talking about then, I find it an apt phrase to describe the university experience.

University takes everything you believe in and attempts to rip them apart. If you weren’t able to defend those beliefs before, you sure as hell had better learn how to quickly — unless you want to let them go or keep them buried, away from interrogating minds.

People believe in a lot of things, from the Maple Leafs (page 2) to themselves (page 50). In this magazine, we explore weightier beliefs too, from how political beliefs form (page 18) to how religious beliefs stand strong (page 44).

While The Home Issue was familiar — comfortable even — this issue delved into the uncertain and controversial. How can we analyze core beliefs critically, without undermining them or the people holding them?

It turns out, this was a difficult magazine to create. We pushed our boundaries both in the editorial and design, as did our contributors.  The results are challenging, sometimes uncomfortable. Rather than drive you away, I hope they lead you to deliberate what you believe and question why things are the way they are.

Our intent is not to shatter any beliefs. Instead, I invite you to refine and mature your beliefs so that the next time they are tested, you are prepared. Alternatively, you could have an existential crisis — just kidding.

— Rachel Chen, Magazine Editor

The Home Issue was the first magazine I was in charge of visualizing from start to finish. The Belief Issue is the last. This time, I wanted to take a bolder approach, to take more risks. Instead of the generally safe pastel colours and largely squarish photo-based layout of The Home Issue, this magazine features all sorts of wacky colours, shapes, and visuals.

Moving away from the old format allowed us to experiment more with layout. Outside the circle (page 40) features irregular organic shapes that add character to otherwise simple event photos. Christy Ahn’s wonderfully crafted polymer clay figures scattered throughout Read me (page 6) and on the cover add charm to the mostly digital magazine.

From Mirka Loiselle’s quirky alien illustrations (page 27 ) to Mahdi Chowdhury’s pill-and-jelly bean explosion (page 36), the visuals in this magazine are unique and interesting, all enclosed in Julien Balbontin’s “book-end” bee-leaf patterns in the front and back.

This magazine production has been another unintentionally week-long journey. This time it included waffles, a lot more work, and utter exhaustion, but it turned out to be just as rewarding. Thank you to everyone who worked to make The Belief Issue look as good as it does.

— Mubashir Baweja, Creative Director

Letters from us

I’ve finally given into calling Toronto ‘home,’ but it still unnerves me because I know it’s only for now. The other day, I realized that if I stay in my current student apartment until I graduate, my short time here will already be the second longest I have ever stayed in one house.

Initially, I wanted this magazine to be identity themed, but I ultimately decided home was the bigger idea; so much of our identities are shaped by what we call home. In this diasporic world where we’re all constantly moving, it is nearly impossible to tie home down to a building — so what is it? When I was a kid, that question kept me up at night as my family moved from apartment to townhouse and suburb to city.

In this issue, I looked for pieces that would cover as broad a scope as possible. Alex McKeen explores how we commodify our living spaces (page 8), Farwa Khtana looks into life for Syrian refugees as they settle into Canada (page 19), and Teodora Pasca tries to reconstruct memories of her birthplace (page 52).

I hope that this magazine gives you comfort in knowing that home doesn’t have to be any specific place — it doesn’t even have to be a place at all (page 2). Instead, I sincerely hope you find home in wherever and whatever you love and makes you feel loved. In short, the concept of home can change or vary, and like my apartment, sometimes it can be a complete mess — but that’s okay.

On that note, please enjoy. Hopefully this magazine finds a home on your coffee table or bookshelf, if only for a little while.

— Rachel Chen, Magazine Editor


I spent a lot of time this summer trying to figure out what my role at The Varsity actually means. With a masthead that changes every year, it’s hard to make your mark. It’s inevitable that my successors will tweak and adjust The Varsity’s style to make it align with their vision of the paper.

Therefore, how much control do I have over what The Varsity looks like and how long will it last? I felt like The Varsity Magazine was my chance to create a unique, timeless product that I could call my own.

The Home Issue has been a wonderful opportunity to explore the theme beyond a two-storey, triangular roof ‘house’ that is sometimes synonymous to the word. We tried to limit the use of the home motif as much as possible, paying attention to more symbolic representations of the home feeling.

Being part of the 1.5 generation (page 44), home is something that also transcends geographical borders for me. I am as at home in Toronto as I am in Karachi, Pakistan — but for entirely different reasons. Yet, there is familiarity in both cases and the design team aspired to carry that feeling throughout the visuals.

From the Tim Hortons coffee cups in “Does Canada matter?” (page 26) to Shringle’s adventures in IKEA (page 6), the visuals are all meant to invoke feelings of familiarity, of home. The unassuming design elements complement but don’t overpower the visuals.

With that in mind, I hope that The Home Issue resonates with you as much as it did with me. It was produced over five very long, burrito and coffee-fuelled days; we are immensely proud of the final product.

— Mubashir Baweja, Creative Director