I was an accidental magazine designer.
Seriously – when I left University in the UK (along time before I settled in Sunny Ipswich) I lived in a town that didn’t seem to offer much for a graphic design graduate and to be honest I knew very little about the real world of design (I’ll save that rant for another time). I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go or what I wanted to be, I simply wanted to design something and make sure my student loan wasn’t a total waste of time.
I walked the streets, sent emails, and after a few failed interviews I eventually I struck gold in a small publishing company – The boss seemed to like my stuff and my attitude so I jumped right into designing ads in photoshop! That’s right, it’s kinda funny and kinda cringeworthy that we built our ads in photoshop… at least initially.
After about a week or so I was handed control of the production of the entire 48pp magazine – I had help from the boss and the editor in the early weeks but it really was a baptism of fire – I asked a lot questions and googled a lot of about Quark, printing and prepress until I gained a basic understanding. Long days, late nights, deadlines, last minute additions, cancellations, regular booze ups, free dinners for (good) reviews, teary sales reps, threats by advertisers, this is it how it continued and this is how I accidentally stumbled into publishing and started a career long habit of designing magazines.
Since that toe dip into the world of publishing I’ve continually found myself drawn back into the world of deadlines and grids.
It can be a love / hate relationship… the pressure of being the link at the very end of the chain – it’s the designer who feels the squeeze come deadline time: Missed advertising deadlines mean reflowing pages, tweaking your grid to add or remove content when everything is already laid out perfectly, last minute arguments over grammar and punctuation or an important client decides they hate their photo or wants to change a quote.
Contrast this with the concept stage of a brand new publication or a refreshed one
– it’s one of those glorious things that makes design so powerful, and so addictive. From the Masthead and cover styling through to creation of grids, the defining of repeating elements that dictate the flow and how the reader engages with content… the art of long type, balancing columns, tweaking edges, hunting widows, and finding a balance and sensitivity when choosing an image that compliments the tone and emotion of the copy.
Some accidents are happy ones.