How important is the working relationship between design and editorial team members during the process of creating a magazine?
John O'Reilly: On all the magazines I’ve worked on, the relationships between editorial and design are part a function of professional circumstance and money; part a function of the geography and proximity of the team; and always a negotiation of the boundaries between editorial and design. This tacit negotiation comes from the respect and interest in the specific set of skills and tools the others bring to the expression of ideas in magazines, ideas that merge the textual and visual.
The three of us have worked with each other on magazine projects before, side-by-side in a studio for some years, and we know each other’s strengths and tastes, and where we can encourage and push each other. Each of us can tell when another isn’t getting a vision of what a feature could be. Any strong creative collaboration is ultimately about trust and about being able to bring specific ideas to the project, to try them out and trust the others to make them work, move them forward, or most importantly just say they don’t work. Though we are keen to experiment visually and graphically with the Journal, Paul is keen to push this in the second issue. We have been schooled in editorial magazine making since the 80s and 90s (I co-edited my first magazine at age 16—myself and the co-editor, now a leading London Psychiatrist, were hauled in front of our Jesuit headmaster for posing leading, politicized questions in a survey!).
Both Paul and Lewis are steeped in the history and visual lore of magazine design, so when they get talking about designers, magazines, and print from the 60s and 70s (and sometimes that’s the 1870s), it’s like listening to two magazine Jedi!
Over the last five years, especially, we have begun to see a radical change in the relationship between editorial and design, and between text and image in publications, which is really interesting. In a world where you have information on tap from the internet, the psychological, social and cultural function of the magazine is changing; likewise, the role and idea of what a designer and editor is too.
When Lewis wrote about David Carson in The End of Print, Carson was a sociology grad turned designer, a kind of designer-autodidact. Now the surge in magazine culture is designer-driven, where designers are not necessarily coming into the world of magazines schooled in the practice of editorial design. That is radically changing magazines—the visual language of new magazines is not so monolithic. It’s exciting, sometimes the arrangements of text and image don’t really work, and other times we just need to open ourselves up to something bold and new, retraining our perception of how we read and experience a story in graphics, photos and words. Designers themselves do this in making and learning the language of their magazine.