Magazine Design on Zero Dollars a Day

I was the art director/production manager for a publishing company that produced several titles in English and Spanish. Profit was paramount so that meant expenses were to be kept low—or non-existent.

This can be a challenge in publication design, but not insurmountable. In fact, having such constraints can stretch the imagination and force designers and editors to come up with cool ways to illustrate the issue and not spend money doing so.

magazine issues publication artworkOne example.

ONE OF OUR TITLES was Magazine Issues, which we renamed from the original name: Publishing Trade. I came up with the name, because, well, magazines were issues and issues were magazines. Get it?

The cover story—Employee Wars—was written by the publisher and dealt with intra-office squabbling and back-stabbing. The challenge was how to illustrate “back-stabbing”?

Of course! As a fencer, this was obvious. I gathered my fencing equipment and got up on the conference table and faced off with—my sister! One of the sales reps shot some pix as we sparred on the table as our co-workers looked in staged horror (in between laughing).

The pix came out great and I asked my assistant art director to expand on the idea by creating pencil-sketch illustrations to be used as inside art for the article.

It would seem like my sister got the better of me and I was never to back-stab again.

This was a fun example of how the creative mind can come up with some clever ideas when constraints are in place. Also, keep in mind, this was just before the digital publishing revolution, so we couldn’t simply Photoshop our way out this or illegally grab some image off The Googler.

In addition to Magazine Issues, I was the art director for: Quick Printing, Southern Graphics, Printing Products International, Artes Gráficas, The Craftsmen Review, several Show Guides, and Direct Response Card decks.