Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Careers in Magazines

They handed out free copies
of the most recent issues of both magazines
which I thought was pretty nice.

So I went to this talk a few weeks ago.

It was a panel discussion about careers in magazine design, held at the School of Visual Arts theatre. I got notice of it via—they send emails one or two times a day highlighting things of interest in the city that are free or cheap. I think it is just in NYC but I'm not sure. Everywhere should have one. But anyway. Magazine design. I decided, why not go. This was the line-up:

Maile Carpenter, Editor in Chief, Food Network Magazine
Ian Doherty, Art Director, Food Network Magazine
Sara Peterson, Editor in Chief, HGTV Magazine
Ridge Carpenter, Art Director, HGTV Magazine

Weirdly (or not), Maile and Ridge are siblings. Sisters. Not that it matters. What matters is that it was good. The speakers were personable, down-to-earth, and happy to help demystify the behind-the-scenes process of putting together their respective publications. Sara Peterson, in particular, was charming and chatty about the realities of putting out a magazine in the current economic climate, and the relationship between the TV show (and on-air personalities) and the publication. Both editors talked about how the divide between editorial and advertising in magazines has been reconsidered in the last few years. In short, there maybe isn't one any longer. Maile Carpenter talked candidly about how a necessary part of her job now entails brainstorming ideas about how to better merge advertiser's products with their editorial content. And really, I guess, why not. It isn't like Food Network Magazine deals with hard news or serious journalism.

I think both magazines, in terms of design, are pretty solidly middle-of-the-road. Which is not intended as disparagement. You wouldn't look for cutting-edge graphic design from either—it wouldn't be appropriate for their audience. And consideration for their readers and what they value in the magazine are the driving forces behind what they feature and how they present it, and rightly so.

As it was held at SVA, the moderator (a faculty member) asked some pretty direct questions about how an interested student might land a job there. Which I thought was great. I don't remember any practical help being offered to me as an undergraduate in terms of making a living. Which is part of how I ended up in graduate school 2 years after finishing undergrad. I literally didn't know what else to do with myself. The only thing I had ever successfully done was to be a student. So that was heartening.
Photo of the theatre from the SVA website.
Part of what also made me want to go was the opportunity to check out the SVA theatre. I had attended a talk by the designer Milton Glaser a couple years ago (I go to a lot of talks, I am suddenly aware) when he was promoting a new book. He still teaches at SVA, I believe, which is amazing since the dude is like a hundred or something. Anyway, he had designed the logo and interior of the theatre and showed a slide of it at his talk. 

One thing he said during that talk, that I've since thought about a lot, is that Photoshop and Illustrator can be dangerous because they tend to dictate the sort of art or design one makes. He felt that there was a sameness to a lot of the illustration being produced now because people were relying on the same set of tools to craft it. I think he has a valid point. He also read his essay listing the 10 most critical things he has learned over the years (miltonglaser10things). Number one? Only work for people that you like. To which I would say, it must be good to be Milton Glaser.

1 comment:

  1. Well, that is a bit mind blowing -- the sameness of the tools leads to a sameness of products. Akin to, if all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail.
    Sounds like a fun & informative evening. I will see if my NYC friend knows about that website.