Steven Charny is a Deputy Art Director at the magazine Entertainment Weekly. He came to Professor Baron’s magazine production class this October to speak to the students about his experiences, and teach us about the state of the field. We were very honored to have Mr. Charny visit us and illuminate the role of an Art Director.
As a student of Pace University’s MS in Publishing program, I have the lucky privilege of meeting extraordinary publishing professionals like Steven Charny, Deputy Art Director at Entertainment Weekly and former Senior Art Director of Rolling Stone. Mr. Charny was nice enough to come talk to Professor Baron’s Magazine Production and Design class this October. He regaled the class with tales of his work, showing us examples of the projects he’s worked on. Mr. Charny gave us great advice on how to get involved (and employed!) in the artistic fields of publishing.
Mr. Charny has worked in magazines for over 20 years. He has been present for the various changes ushered through the digital revolution. When he was starting out, rather than emailing his resume and link to an online portfolio as we would do today, he had to bring his work to different art departments to be evaluated. It was not easy for him to find steady employment at first, but through perseverance (and part-time bartending) he made it happen. When he was starting out, there were no programs like InDesign and Photoshop for the average publisher. Instead, designers would paste photos, text, and other elements onto a page and have the finished page photographed and compiled together. This process takes a lot more time and energy than current digital methods.
Though design processes have become more streamlined and faster in today’s publishing world, Mr. Charny talked about how there is still a lot of pressure to get everything finished on time. Designers working on Entertainment Weekly have just two weeks to put together their finished product. Editors plan out the content well in advance, but the designers don’t get the final material to put into the layout until it is go-time. This leads to a lot of long nights working at tiny details making everything perfect, like the spacing of headline text.
Mr. Charny emphasized the importance of using layouts that help develop the narrative of the story. He said that the online Entertainment Weekly is a different animal than the print version and didn’t ever feel pressure to have a consistent style between the two, which surprised me. Though their tablet version is a direct copy of the print magazine, the web presence of the brand is directed by a different branch of the company. I would have guessed that it is important to check the two versions of a designed feature to make sure they don’t contrast completely- sometimes a red hot design will give a much different view of a story than an understated, cooler scheme.
Instead of waiting to see your favorite publication post an internship or job online, Mr. Charny advised us to just go ahead and send out your resume to different employers. He believes that competition for internships in the magazine field is not as competitive as we may think, and that there’s no harm in reaching out and trying. Great advice for all of us aspiring magazine designers who might not have the courage to give it a try!
By Jenna Vaccaro