It’s one thing to put a publication together after being handed all of the pieces. It’s quite another to be in charge of deciding what those pieces are.
My friend Tamara tagged me in a 7-day art challenge. Post 7 different pieces of art, talk about them, tag someone. Day 1 we spent in the darkroom, and day 2 was in the newsroom. For day 3, I thought I’d tell you about creative direction.
My first life as an editor and creative director came with a project very near and dear to my heart. The company I was working for decided that it wanted to start publishing a women’s lifestyle magazine in 2007. I raised my hand immediately. I could feel it in my bones; this is what I was called to do.
Being in charge of all things editorial of a startup magazine, I realized very quickly that a blank slate can be both a good and bad thing. I got to decide everything. I had to decide everything. The logo. The fonts: body copy, headline, breakout boxes. The number of columns a page would have. The way the magazine would feel to the readers. It was amazing and eye-opening, and it was a huge success.
The community responded in such a big way. York County didn’t have anything like this at the time, and the readers and advertisers alike wanted to be a part of it. I took my knowledge of production and deadlines, honed in the daily-paper bustle of the newsroom, and I brought it with me on my new venture.
We only used wire copy to supplement our first edition, and after that, we were off and running with 100 percent local content. We covered fashion, fitness and lifestyle topics. I was editor and creative director, yes, but often I was also photographer and writer. Our budget was small but our hearts were big. So big, in fact, that my newsroom editor asked me, a few editions in, if I ever slept. “All I see is your byline all over this thing,” he remarked proudly.
The truth is, I wasn’t sleeping, but it was worth it. The first year of a new publication is always the most difficult. We were not only creating content from scratch, but we were finding our processes along the way. I was working on several editions at a time in the name of getting production onto solid ground. Sometimes work weeks were 70 hours.
But it actually worked.
By the time I left the company in pursuit of my own ventures, (meaning my very own startup graphic design firm), I had that magazine so well organized it could practically run itself. I proudly handed off an entire edition of editorial, edited, photographed, and ready for layout on my last day, about 6 weeks before it had to be done. I had stories assigned for the next two editions after that. Creative direction: level up. I couldn’t have been more proud.
If you notice above, I kept mentioning all things editorial. That’s a very important distinction because there is a whole other side to publications, and that’s advertising. My partner in crime during this venture was a very talented graphic artist who handled his side like a boss. Advertising is a different world from editorial, and it was a world Anthony Rodriguez knew well. He brought to the table his talent for giving each ad its own story on the page. I guarantee he was part of the reason the advertisers kept coming back. When he can make your business look that good, wouldn’t you? He is an amazing illustrator and musician as well — his art takes on many forms. So for today, Anthony, tag, you’re it!