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First purpose, then comes writing style and design.
by Andy Attiliis
That's the way an editor and a creative director must approach development of a new magazine. Publications that accurately anticipate and supply content that is in demand by their target audience serve the right purpose. With input from the publisher, research, selection of the stories that will work best in each issue and management of the entire piece is an editor's job.
The job of creative direction is to consider and oversee how a magazine looks and reads. Study of a thorough audience description will begin suggesting both visual and writing directions. Add a broad review of the magazine's intended focus and the creative director will have sufficient insight to specifically direct style and mood. Here is where the job can become difficult, even controversial. Suppose, we learn that audience's favorite typeface is unreadable. In addition, their fondness for unrelated decoration is disruptive. Lines, doodads, initial caps and textures, all in combination with each other totally dominate their favorite publications. Eventhough the desired content has become hard to find. What to do?
Remember, successful creative direction recognizes what is, not what should be. In such a situation, the right course is to tame the ugly beast, not shoot it. That is, to make what the audience likes even better. With an art director and designer who fully understand the dilemma, poor typefaces can be made more streamlined with spacing adjustments, better looking with a weight change and faster to read by refining the font's proportions. Other elements that clearly impede communication can be sized down and toned back. Soon, the content will be much more prominent without hurting the audience's feelings about style. In fact, what will result is an improved but unique look, the likes of which have never ever been seen in another book.
Andy Attiliis has served as art director for three advertising agencies. Since becoming an independent professional in 1981, he has been hired by nearly every type of business organization. With focused concentration on improving the continuity of a message’s concept and quality, he has often performed multiple creative functions on a single project. His additional experience as a creative director, designer, illustrator and writer have made him an extremely efficient single source art director/creative provider. The kinds of communications for which he has provided art direction range from ads to newsletters, brandings to Web sites.
Copyright 2001 Andy Attiliis. All rights reserved.