Design Expert on Challenges Facing Today’s Magazine Designers
Jan White is a nationally recognized expert in magazine design who has given more than 1,800 seminars in 27 countries on the relationship of layout and graphics to editing. He also writes the “Designed for Success” column in Publishing Executive magazine. His stated goal is “to persuade word-people to think visually and visual people to think verbally.” Inbox picked his “inventive”—don’t call it creative—mind about the evolution of magazine design and the challenges today’s designers face in a visual world. White will also be a featured speaker at the upcoming 2007 Publishing Executive Conference (March 5-7, New York’s Marriott Marquis), where he’ll explore the partnership of editing with designing in order to exploit the blend for maximum reader engagement in a session titled “Designed for Success” on March 5. Log on to www.PubXpo.com for more information.
Inbox: What would you say is the single most significant change in the last 20 years in design?
Jan White: The unbounded freedom the computer has given to the designer. Unfortunately, the temptation to show off is hard to control, so the result is the visual babel that now surrounds us. Freedom must be used responsibly -- for the sake of the product and its message.
Inbox: If you could go back in time to meet a younger version of yourself—say, the 28-year-old Jan White—and had 30 seconds to tell him something that would help him with his career in the future, what would it be?
White: How to charge for my services. It took courage to become a freelance designer at age 36. I accepted any job that came along and quoted a fee that I hoped the client might not balk at. I had to feed the kids, so I was scared to ask for what my work was really worth, and I had no agent to guide me. It was my own fault that I gave so much away. On the other hand, clients returned over and over. Oh well, you can’t take it with you. Had i known then what I know now ...