The Increasingly Over-Burdened Art Department
It’s often been said that art is subjective. The same could be said about the art process in magazine publishing. While some multi-title publishers believe in one art team for one title, others like to throw the talent at whichever title they can best lend a hand to at the time. Technology has actually been a double-edged sword for the creative department—expediting the print process, but also leading to increased multimedia publishing and marketing, the design of which is often placed on the art department’s plate. Balancing the multiple demands on the art department’s time can be a real challenge.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look into different publishing art and production departments to see how they’re running various creative and production processes.
eRepublic: Keep ‘em Separated
Dennis McKenna, CEO of Folsom, Calif.-based eRepublic, is keeping print and Web somewhat separated.
“I think you need to keep your art team in print and let other people handle the Web or promotional material,” he says. “Despite occasionally having the art director add design input to the Web, I believe them putting in a lot of time wastes their talent. Also, I’ve found a Web designer whose talent doesn’t necessarily translate into having a clue about print.”
eRepublic, which boasts four publications, the most prominent being the 77,000-circ monthly Government Technology, has an art team of five set to do battle for each of the company’s titles: the creative director, an art director, two graphic designers and an illustrator.
“We leave our creative director to concentrate on the overall look and feel of the publication, while the art director is largely responsible for page-by-page of the issue. Our graphic designers are either following or designing templates for each section.”
“The titles, which range from 65 to 100 pages, each are produced on a four-week production cycle. McKenna would like to make they cycle longer, but doesn’t see it as a possibility because of the Web.
“The editorial team takes a long time because of the demand on them for so much copy,” he says. “For this reason, we’ll occasionally outsource to freelance designers to make the four-week time frame. Because we have books running on different production cycles and want our best people on all of them, it almost becomes like a chess game—but I think it makes the staff work better. By being able to switch off magazines, they don’t get in a rut as easily.”