From the SPD Archives: Weekly Newsmagazine Art Directors, Early 1990s

From the SPD Archives: Weekly Newsmagazine Art Directors, Early 1990s This latest entry from the SPD Archives features a titanic gathering of weekly newsmagazine art directors, from the early 1990s (no one seems quite sure of the exact date). This of course, was back in the day when the three major newsmagazines had many millions of circulation, giant staffs and budgets, and huge influence on creating the national conversation on politics, news, arts, and lifestyle. Featured in this photograph, are from left to right: Rob Covey, design director of U.S. News & World Report; Patricia Bradbury, senior art director of Newsweek; Peter Comitini, cover art director of Newsweek; Rudy Hoglund, art director of Time; Roger Black, art director of Newsweek; and Arthur Hochstein, design director of Time. As with the date, no one is quite sure what event brought this stellar group together, but everyone seems to think it was organized by Roger Black.

All of the people in this photo continued to have notable careers in publication design (and other areas) after this. In fact, they all probably did much better than the magazines they worked for at the time!

Arthur Hochstein: I don't know when or where this picture was taken, but my best guess is somewhere around 1990-1993, perhaps at the National Arts Club, or somewhere near Grammercy Park, where Roger Black lived. I think Roger was the ringleader of this summit; he thought it would be interesting, given his history, to get all the newsweekly art directors together to compare notes. Patricia Bradbury of Newsweek, Rob Covey of U.S. News and Rudy Hoglund were the honchos. Peter Comitini headed up Newsweek's cover department, which, unlike Time, was its own entity, somewhat separate from the rest of the art department. (I never quite understood that.) I was called Design Director at Time, which at other titles was the top job--but Rudy liked the old-fashioned title of Art Director, so I got the more highfalutin title. I did most of the covers (I think), but coordinated the inside design as well.

We each did a little spiel at this event, and then there was a Q&A. Afterwards a guy named Paul Lussier came up to me and introduced himself. I think he was working for Roger at the time. A couple of years later, when I became head AD, Paul applied for a job at Time, and I hired him; he later became AD of Time's European editions. Paul and I have had a long personal and professional relationship. A demonstration that networking, or schmoozing, or whatever you might call it, can pay off.

Arthur Hochstein was the art director at Time until 2010. He continues to consult and design a wide variety of media projects.

Patricia Bradbury: This photo must have been taken when Roger Black was still at Newsweek, so I would have been Senior Art Director at the time.

While fun and exciting, working at a weekly could take quite a toll, both physically and mentally. It was basically a race, beginning each Tuesday, to see who would do the best job telling the stories of the week visually. And the race went for 52 weeks a year. No travel days or off-weeks. That's tough. Especially if your competition was as talented as that of Time and U.S. News & World Report. Those creative departments were killer, and you were on edge every week, wondering if you could beat or match whatever they may have delivered. From Sunday night, when I saw the first printed edition of the domestic issue, until Monday, when I went to the newsstand to see what Time and U.S. News had done, I would hold my breath. I'd be elated if we had a better cover, better photo, better type treatment, better infographic, and despondent if I thought we'd been outflanked. Very tough competition. Both Time and U.S. News had so much talent between them.

But the Newsweek creative team was terrific as well. When Roger was there, he helped get Newsweek turned in the right direction. And I think I kept adding great designers to our talent pool: Bob Newman, Mark Michaelson, Lisa Mischurski, Cynthia Rachlin, Robin Brown-Friedel, Kandy Littrell. I'm sure I'm forgetting someone. Not to mention the talent that was already there: David Herbick, Peter Comitini, Ron Meyerson, and the entire infographic team of Meredith Hamilton, Bonnie Scranton, and Christoph Blumrich.

Weeklies were places where all of your crazy superstitions about karma got turned up to 11. One week you had better access than the competition, got a great photo, and gloated about it. The next, no access at all because "X" had already shot them and they wouldn't do a session with you. You shouldn't have gloated the week before! You were being punished!

SPD and ASME were the best ways to see your colleagues and network in those days. We were all pretty pressed for time and any events put on by either organization was a great way to get out, clear your head, and get a fresh perspective on your design work. Really valuable.

Patricia Bradbury was the Art Director of Newsweek through the mid-1990s. Since then she's worked at Microsoft on MSN, Slate, and Microsoft Press, as well as Amazon Publishing. She's currently doing "freelance work, identity, websites, and blackboard art, my new favorite kind of work."

Rob Covey: What I remember from seeing all of us pictured here was the generosity and kindness that was present. There was a healthy respect for the work we all did and the conditions we worked under. As art directors of weekly national news magazines, we faced similar pressures and problems which made for a unique camaraderie. We all knew each other and liked one another.  And It was good moment for all of us as the curve of news magazines had not yet curved downward. It was certainly a highpoint for me.

Rob Covey was the longtime design director of U.S. News & World Report. He later was the SVP Content and Design for the Discovery Channel, and SVP Content and Design at National Geographic online. Rob is now the Chief Digital Media Officer at the Journal of Science.

Rudy Hoglund: I remember being surrounded by the top talent in our business on a very special evening.

Rudy Hoglund was the art director of Time. He later became art director of Money magazine, and in 2008 was named design director of the Weider History Groups magazines. Rudy continues to work on various magazine and media consulting projects.

Peter Comitini was Newsweek's cover art director until 1995. He left print magazines for online design and development, and since 2002 has been a successful real estate broker.

  • Roger_Black

    This is a great argument, not only for bigger nametags at events, but for time stamps on all photo prints. Believe the date *was* early 90s, but I left Newsweek in ’89 to go out on my own. (How’s that working out for you, they’re asking?). Peter Comitini arrived at Newsweek post ’80.

    By the time of this photo I was enough of a non-combatant in the news mag wars to moderate a panel like this. In fact, so neutral, Rudy got me in to do a millennium [there is no spell-check on this thing] issue of Time. That was around the time they were doing Time 2, unsuccessful, but maybe just ahead of its time; the magazine is a lot like Time 2 today. Font Bureau did some new fonts, and that lead to an updated logo which I wrangled with the great Jim Parkinson and Ann Pomeroy (what happened to Ann anyway?). . . .

    Patricia, I think, assumed we all counted Amid Capeci in the Newsweek group, who I stole from Esquire, part of my Hearst gig just around this time. And there was a long list of great people there.

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