I’ve just seen the first draft layout for the condor story, and I’m thrilled. The art director “got” what I was trying to do.

This is one thing I love about writing for magazines: collaborating with graphic designers. You may think when it comes to magazine stories, all the artistic decisions are reserved for the writer and his or her muse. Not so. Final text is final text, but there are many more artistic decisions to be made before the finished project is revealed.

Until a graphic designer gets involved, text is just text, black lines on white paper, a sea of ink … boring.

Once the editor approves your text and sends it to design, the magazine’s art director or graphic designer reads the story and develops a vision for presenting it. The goal is to use visual cues to reinforce key themes, bringing out the central point in a whole different language, one of form and color.

With that vision in mind, the art director looks for images or illustrations. If you supplied photos with your words, you may think they go together like peanut butter and jelly. But magazines don’t necessarily publish an author’s photos with the text. The art director may choose honey, or chocolate chips, or even bananas instead. And this is a good thing … not every brilliant writer is also a brilliant photographer, after all. It’s thrilling when the art director or photo editor pairs your text with someone else’s fine art.

Once the story goes to design, you may or may not get to see layout proofs. When you do, the request is usually for cutlines (photo captions). You may be asked for feedback on photo choice or, more rarely, overall design theme. Don’t try to re-edit your text at this point—you’re sure to earn an editorial growl. Layout is not the time to fuss with text.

My advice is, sit back and let this process happen. Collaborating with another artist is fun!


2 thoughts on “Collaboration

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  1. I’m eager to receive the next issue of “Wildlife Views” so I can read the story and see the layout. I enjoyed this insight into the process, and send kudo’s to Cecelia. I always notice her clever layouts in the publication, and George does some wonderful photos.

    As in so may aspects of life, “It takes a village”, and Wildlife Views has a good and successful team.

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