Claudia Rubín, Designer at The New York Times Magazine

 
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SPD: What year?
Claudia Rubín:
2008

SPD: What were you up to?
CR:
I was 13 and in the 7th grade. Haha.

SPD: What magazine?
CR:
Nylon Magazine.

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SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
CR:
At the time, I was completely obsessed with the TV show Gossip Girl and Nylon did a split run with the two main characters. I originally bought both just because I loved the cover stars but ended up loving the magazine and subscribing until I graduated high school. The design was so fun compared to other teen magazines, but still sophisticated. I felt very cool and ~adult~ reading it. Getting it in the mail was the best.

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
CR:
I believe Michele Outland was the Art Director there at the time. She doesn't know this but when she told me she used to be the AD there I played it cool on the outside, but fangirled on the inside. It was like, wow. A legend right in front of me. Haha.

SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
CR:
While the work I do now is very different from a teen fashion magazine, I will always admire Nylon for being so bold and daring. I learned early on about all the fun you can have with type from that mag. Ah, memories.

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Mike McQuade, Designer / Artist at McQuade Inc.

 
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SPD: What year?
Mike McQuade:
2005

SPD: What were you up to?
MM:
Just graduated college

SPD: What magazine?
MM:
Juxtapoz

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SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
MM:
Being introduced to artists outside of the museum world.

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
MM:
Honestly I never thought to look. It was all about the content to me.

SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
MM:
I guess I try not to put definitions or labels on things, sometimes that can limit creativity.

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Alice Alves, Art Director at Fast Company

 
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SPD: What year?
Alice Alves:
Early '90s

SPD: What were you up to?
AA:
In college

SPD: What magazine?
AA:
Harper’s Bazaar

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SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
AA:
The iconic photography, sure. But dearest to my heart was the beautiful use of Didot. I would pour so much time into admiring those type pages. How many ways can you arrange letters and still get a unique and fresh layout? I had no money to buy magazines, but I worked at the illustrator David Cowles studio, where part of my job was to tear magazines, looking for photographs of celebrities that he used as references when he drew portraits (before the internet days). This gave me access to all the magazines I wanted. I got to save some of those Harpers Bazaars and I’ve carried them with me from apartment to apartment throughout the years. I still have them with me now.

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
AA:
Fabien Baron. Everyone knew!…

SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
AA:
There was an elegance to those type treatments that I’ve always tried to bring to my work. The play with scale, how the typography interacted and played off the photos, and the restrained use of color still informs my work today. During my years at Vibe, we got to experiment with big type for some years, and I definitely referenced the HBs from that era. One of these days, if I’m ever brave enough to work for a fashion brand, I’ll most certainly be looking at my stack of HBs for inspiration.

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Sarah Rozen, Photo Director

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Sarah Rozen: It all started out with “Magazines for Fun and Fact,”  an English course that was offered at my high school. I had originally signed up hoping to avoid a  heavy workload but I ended up realizing just how much I loved magazines and the world of information and beauty that they opened up to me.

When I finished college and moved to New York City, I started out working for a photo agency and then for the Time-Life Picture Collection.  I had the rare opportunity to hold and study the photographs of Margaret Bourke-White, Gjon Mili, W. Eugene Smith, and Alfred Eisenstaedt.  I could see how the magazines decided which shots to use and that helped to teach me to be a better photo editor. In some cases, the photographers were still coming in to the 28th floor of the Time Life Building. It was quite a thrill to see icons like Gjon Mili still coming into an office everyday into their 80’s and in some cases 90’s. From the Time Life offices, I kept my eyes on all the Time Inc. titles, as well as all the other great magazines of the 90’s. Eventually, I fell in love for the first time! Entertainment Weekly was launched in 1990.  The first year was a little rough as it was searching for its voice and vision.  But by 1993, it found the sweet spot with wonderful writing from people like Mark Harris and photographers like Dan Winters and Kurt Markus. EW was  making bold choices with photographers and often getting amazing results.  There were new photographers like Stephanie Pfriender and Robert Trachtenberg. Robert’s photo of Jennifer Aniston perfectly captured the absurdity of “the haircut” with both humor and charm. Stephanie’s photo of Antonio Banderas is still the sexiest picture of an already very sexy man.

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SPD: What Year:
SR:
Around 1993-95

SPD: What were you up to?
SR:
I was working at the Time Life Picture Collection and then People Magazine.

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SPD: What magazine?
SR:
Entertainment Weekly

SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
SR:
I was always an entertainment junkie and loved to read every factoid and learn all the behind-the-scenes info about my favorite films and TV shows. The photos were exciting and fresh, presenting celebs in unexpected ways. PR firms hadn’t yet become so controlling so celebrities were willing, or could be talked into, taking chances.

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SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
SR:
Yes, the photo director and editor were Mary Dunn and Doris Brautigan. Additionally, they had art directors like Robert Newman and John Korpics. I feel I was very lucky to have worked at Entertainment Weekly in the late 1990’s.  

SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
SR:
It is surprising how many of the images are classic and timeless to this day. My time at EW helped to teach me the importance of not always taking the safe option with photographers.   Sometimes when you take a chance, the results can be really surprising.

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Kate Bubacz, Deputy Photo Director at BuzzFeed News

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SPD: What year?
Kate Bubacz:
This would have been 2004 or 2005.

SPD: What were you up to?
KB:
By high school I was deep into photography and I was SO ready to leave town. I grew up in the Kodak hometown, so there were always cameras in my life, but I wanted adventure and not a desk job. As much as I liked taking pictures of my friends, I wanted to go where "real" stories were, I wanted to travel.

SPD: What magazine?
KB:
I remember looking at National Geographic and thinking, those people definitely don't sit at desks. I covered the walls of my bedroom with images pulled from its pages, on all topics. When the science department at school was cleaning out back issues from the 60s and 70s, I brought home dozens of issues and went through them all.

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SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
KB:
I loved the emphasis on photographs that told a story, often in a single frame. I loved how enigmatic and cinematic foreign places looked on the page, the captured glamor of the faraway day to day. I loved the double-page spreads, I loved that they would interview the photographers and explain how they got the shots. I found the use of gorgeous light and color and surprising juxtapositions inspiring - they looked so easy and were SO hard to recreate. To this day, I'm in awe of the portraits that looked like film stills or images that capture the poignant soft overlooked moments of life.

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
KB:
I want to say that David Griffin was the Director of Photography then or shortly thereafter, and both Sarah Leen and Kurt Mutchler were on the photo editing staff at the time.

SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
KB:
Ironically, I now sit at a desk and give directions to people in the field, but some lessons still cross over - wait for good light, focus on detail shots, focus on in-between moments, and always, always, take more photos than you think you need. Looking back at the edits in Nat Geo now, I can see the importance of wide edits and close collaborations between photographers and editors. Some of the magic is in the off-frames, the harder-to-look-at moments, the effort put in when you're supposed to be off the clock. That level of dedication and effort is something I hope to inspire in the photographers that I work with. And luckily, I am also able to run photos full-bleed and interview photographers about their stories.

Andrew Hetherington, Photographer

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SPD: What year?
Andrew Hetherington:
1985

SPD: What were you up to?
AH:
I was a teenager living in Dublin, Ireland. At that time personal style was very much defined by what music you listened to and that dictated the tribe you belonged to; skas, mods, punks, new romantics, metal heads, etc. I was a new wave type and fancied myself as an artist, musician or fashion designer. I couldn’t sing, play an instrument, draw or sew but I discovered photography as the gateway to indulging my passions. I started taking photos of bands I knew and poured through the pages of music weeklies like the NME and Melody Maker for inspiration discovering the B&W photography of Anton Corbijn and Steve Pyke.

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SPD: What magazine?
AH:
The Face

SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
AH:
The Face was the game changer for me and couldn’t have come into my life at a more perfect time. It was so much more than a music magazine; diverse, colorful content all presented in a groundbreaking way, it wasn’t aimed at women or men but at everyone of all backgrounds. It echoed the cultural and social changes that were happening in the U.K. at the time and became that generation’s style bible for awhile. Fashion, music, nightlife, films; all delivered with just the right amount of attitude through bold design and great photography. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of sub cultures and was my internet; how I found out about latest bands, designers, DJ’s, directors, photographers and stylists. I couldn’t wait for the latest issue each month and would race to the newsagents to pick up a copy.

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
AH:
I paid particular attention to the photographers. There was a fresh young generation of British and European shooters who were changing the traditional photo playbook. Rules didn’t seem to matter anymore. Seeing the work of Nick Knight, David Sims, Craig McDean, Elaine Constantine, Juergen Teller, Stephane Sednaoui, Corinne Day, Derek Ridgers and Jamie Morgan blew my mind. But it was also how the photography was incorporated into the design and how they both pushed each other in new directions that really excited me. 

Neville Brody was the creative director from 1982 and he was succeeded by Robin Derrick and Phil Bicker in the 90’s. All legends, who left their mark not on only the magazine world but contemporary design and culture too. The Face also pushed style and fashion in new directions mixing genres and genders in what at the time was quite a revolutionary way. 

I can clearly remember photographs and layouts that left an indelible impact on me. Morgan’s photos of the Buffalo movement; a whole new look juxtaposing genres and styles created by iconic stylist Ray Petri, struck a particular chord. The cover they shot with Felix Howard from May ’85 is the first one I remember. Felix was a 13 year old boy but to quote Morgan "had the face of an elder person. To me, from a photographic point of view, it was a direct kick against the photography that was happening at the time in fashion magazines – pretty, colourful, female images.” Corinne Day’s photographs of a young Kate Moss for the mythical “Third Summer of Love” issue from July 1990 also left an indelible impression and heralded the age of raw and real fashion photography.   

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SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
AH:
The Face was a constant creative companion for me from 1985 through to the late 1990’s. I treasured every copy for years and years. The photographers I gravitated towards had a distinctive visual style and that is something I strive for throughout my own work. The Face also taught me how photography and design were equally significant in a magazine layout and how they could elevate each other to the next level. To this day I am really excited to see my work in print and to see how the art department uses my photographs as part of the overall design package.

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Savana Ogburn, Freelance Photographer & Set Designer

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Savana Ogburn: One of my most vivid memories of looking through Teen Vogue as a wee 12 year old was seeing a photo of Tavi Gevinson at fashion week swaddled in a knit scarf and a floral coat. I remember sitting there, probably wearing a Jonas Brothers tee shirt, thinking "how the hell does this fellow 12 year old have grey hair and why is she in Teen Vogue?". Fast forward to 3 years later when I discovered Rookie Mag on the shelf at my suburban Barnes and Noble and, no exaggeration, my entire life changed. I went home, immediately added the book to my birthday wishlist, and began digging through the site's archives. The deeply personal and heartfelt essays spoke about things that were totally taboo (periods, masturbation, puberty, etc), they published incredible early photography from artists like Petra Collins and Olivia Bee, and there were loads of DIYs that spoke to both my crafty Girl Scout sensibilities and my budding desire to look like a riot grrrl. Rookie's unapologetically femme aesthetic paired with the older-sister-giving-you-advice voice entranced me then and is still so comforting to me now. Where else could you read a comic about gender dysphorialearn about public speaking with KATHLEEN HANNA (!!!), and make your nails look just like astroturf?! 

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I credit Rookie with a lot of my interest in hyper-stylized photography and collage; Eleanor Hardwick and Lauren Poor both created wonderland sets (either IRL or via collage) that inspired me to explore with mixed media and sets in my own work. The books were designed to look like sugary sweet, painfully detailed scrapbooks, which I had never seen before and immediately fell in love with. I ended up contributing to Rookie in 2015 and I'd be remiss not to say that their editors (specifically Lena Singer! Hi Lena!) were total angels and saw the potential in my wonky ideas. I learned how to pitch, conceptualize shoots, and make work that I was proud of consistently through contributing to Rookie, and it's that accessibility and platform they give to young artists that's so powerful. I'm so eternally grateful to Rookie for getting me through my teen years and on into adulthood. *Heart eyes emoji* at them, forever. 

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Carla Frank, Creative Director & Brand Strategist

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SPD: What were you up to? 
Carla Frank:
I was young and I was always trying to gain my mother’s love and attention. Achieving such interactions though was nearly impossible – which is how I came to be a dedicated observer of my very pretty yet distant mother. 

Particularly of note in my onlookings, were evident mood shifts when she read magazines. My overwhelmed and stern mother transformed before my eyes into a happy, light-hearted, fulfilled and engaged young woman. She looked so beautiful and carefree in those moments as I sat quietly beside her to see what she was seeing. Sometimes she would walk me through her favorite sections of the magazine and the spectacular features. Sometimes she would laugh aloud at the articles, sometimes call out celebrity names as if she was saying hello to them at a chic cafe. Sometimes she would finger tap outfits she liked while carefully studying them and sometimes she would hug the magazine to her chest when her delightful pastime was interrupted. 

Being an avid reader and born stylist, she created captivating vignettes in small spaces throughout the house. One of her signature styling looks consisted of neat and inviting stacks of her all-time favorite magazines carefully placed reverently. To her they were divine objects. She saved only the finest of her collection for years. 

SPD: What magazine? 
CF:
There was one stack I consistently secretly snuck quiet moments with – Holiday Magazine

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?  
CF:
Yes. They were legendary. Editor Ted Patrick and art director Frank Zachary

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SPD: What was it that so enthralled you? 
CF:
EVERYTHING. The overall wit, wisdom and exotic insights. The daring covers, the transporting photos, the stylish illustrations, the strong type and the use of white space. It was a monthly travel bible created by a group of sophisticates who didn’t necessarily take it all too seriously, which allowed a certain sense of freedom. 

There were two deeply notable characteristics defining Holiday Magazine. The first was that they hired the most famous writers, to travel and write glorious pieces about places. For instance, James Michener on the south pacific, Colette on love in Paris, William Saroyan on Fresno, Ian Fleming on London, Joan Didion on Sacramento and so many more by the likes of Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac, M.F.K. Fisher, Ogden Nash, Arthur Miller, James Thurber, and Alistair Cooke to name only a few. 

The second notable characteristic was the vision of Art Director Frank Zachary, who became a publishing icon himself. Frank brought together a distinguished group of photographers such as Cartier-Bresson, Steichen, Aarons and illustrators such as Arnold Roth, Ronald Searle, Edward Gorey and John Rombola. With fusion of real editorial backbone, mischievousness and impeccable taste, Frank basically reinvented the modern leisure magazine in America 

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Every issue was packed with dazzle, surprise and seduction. Holiday had an insatiable curiosity that created a wide breadth of subjects so it wasn’t just travel it was culture too. There was also a sense of mission, in that Holiday promoted an idea for Americans to make the most out of the advantages they had in prosperity, productivity and happiness. The magazine was pure discovery from cover to cover. 

No wonder why I had the curiosity to travel the world and ended up working at a top travel magazine early in my career. Yet it occurs to me only now, years after becoming a Creative Director in magazines, the deepest subconscious reasons that drove me to magazines in the first place. They brought a world of imagination, delight and refinement to our doorsteps. I wanted to be a part of an elite group who created magazines which could move people the way they did my mother. To be able to produce an enchanting world in which someone could become immersed and seduced into reading the pages and emerge feeling smarter, brighter, and happier was a lot of magic and responsibility at my finger tips. This aspiration and inspiration is perhaps why I’ve poured so much love into every pixel and page I’ve worked on. Perhaps it’s why we all do. 

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