Ask the Pros: What part of your job do you like least?

Ask the Pros: What part of your job do you like least? After our terrific Ask the Pros: Live! event (get caught up on the great advice our panel had to share), we're back with more of the online version. Our Ask the Pros series is here to answer some of your most common questions about interviewing, job-hunting and working in the world of publication and media art and photo departments.

Got a question you want answered? Send it to us at and we'll put it to our experts! A varying panel of professionals will give you their take, and then it's up to you to put their advice to work. 

You know being a magazine designer seems cool, but ever wonder what the downsides are? Read on for our experts' take...

What part of your job do you like least? I figure if I know the downsides, it'll help me better decide if I like this career path.

PRO: Edward Levine - Creative Director, Psychology Today Magazine  
There isn't really a specific area of my position I dislike. Each issue presents new and unexpected challenges. You're always learning. I find the challenges personally satisfying. It's very subjective though. There are so many different publications and each has their own individual culture. If you want to express yourself creatively, magazines are a balancing act requiring great communication, people skills, and mutual trust and teamwork between art and editorial staffs and metaphorically finding the shoe (position) that fits.

PRO: Daniel Añez - graphic designer, Review & Herald Publishing Association 
Graphic design is a money- and time-driven business where you count on your creative ability to design as fast and efficiently as possible. I design a weekly magazine working with more than 20 editors, and where I find myself designing 3 magazines at a time (each at different stages of the process). I truly love what I do, but sometimes what I don't really enjoy is the non-design-related assignments such as dealing with all the various writers and deadlines. If you don't work well under pressure and aren't able to adjust to tight deadlines, I think this could be one downside you may want to consider before getting into publication design.

PRO: David Curcurito - Design Director, Esquire
Downsides? What are you high?!?! This is the best god-damned job in the world!! There are shitty parts to every f***ing job in the world, you need to figure out that shit out on your own. I think if you actually have a choice, choose whatever makes you happy creatively. I studied painting at Parsons School of Design and ended up a magazine art director. I love magazines. Ask yourself what you love. This question is pissing me off.

PRO: Linda Rubes - Art Direction and Design
The part I like the least, is that a lot of your best work winds up on the cutting room floor. Everyone has a story to tell. Even the master, George Lois, has had covers killed. Folks like Richard Turley (Bloomberg Businessweek), and Dirk Barnett (Newsweek, The New Republic), post their killed or "alternate" work on their Tumblr pages.  
    It's not always because your editor's not a visual thinker or doesn't share your aesthetic. Although I have seen it happen because an editor (or publisher) is afraid of alienating a portion of the readership (or worse yet, adverstisers). Sometimes it's the legal department that's up in arms because they're afraid of lawsuit, particulary if you're depicting the likeness of a celebrity or public figure in a way that might be construed as negative or derogatory. But sometimes it's nobody's fault in particular. Like when you come up with a brilliant cover concept for a weekly and then news breaks and your amazing work of art is relocated to the back of the line up, or sadly bumped to a "future" issue.
    Once you make peace with this bit of reality, your life as an art director will become a lot more pleasant.
    One of the saving graces of the digital era is that it's really easy to save a PDF of your work that never makes it to press. And, yes it's okay to include it in your portfolio (though you should be up front about it). Just because it didn't make it into print doesn't mean it's not a worthy representation of what you're capable of doing.

Thanks to our terrific panel of pros for all their great advice! 
Check out our previous Ask the Pros questions below. And email us if you've got a question.
- As a self-taught designer, will grad school help me get a job?

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