Behind the scenes of A Magazine

Lauren Garczynski

Dressed in a striped shirt and a velvet blazer, Grace Harms eyes the detailed pages of the copy and design on her computer screen as the senior art director seeks out any and all errors, racing against the clock to finalize the print edition of A Magazine.

While the average reader may take a single day to flip through a magazine, for this team of editors, photographers, writers and designers it has taken night and day of the entire semester to craft it.

Harms, a senior visual communication design major has served as A’s art director for the past two years since stepping into the position as a junior. As an art director, she designs the layout of the magazine through elements such as typefaces and illustrations.

“I’m in charge of the physical edition and bloggers,” Harms said. “I’ll delegate different illustrations each week based on the articles that are coming in and for print it’s the long-term design of it, a layout rather than an illustration for the web.”

From the art director’s point of view, the creation of a magazine is very detail oriented and involves the inspection design specifics including color scheme, photo crops and typefaces.

“A lot of editorial design comes from looking at other resources of publication design,” Harms said. “Looking at a bunch of other magazines and looking at how they approach content and also reading the articles and thinking about A as a brand and kind of bringing that forward.”

In production, Harms holds another integral role leading a team of designers who meet with her weekly to assist in the construction of the print issue.

At these meetings, she relays her decisions to the team, checks in on progress, and pins up the designer’s articles for examination to contribute to a constant revision process.

“Most of the work I do with my team of designers is guiding their vision for different articles,” Harms said. “It’s a lot of having them explain why they made certain design decisions and me helping adjust where they’re at so it looks cohesive overall.”

While the design team is purposeful in assisting the art director, those that compose it hold significance to the magazine at a much higher level than just assistance.

These designers work on two articles sent to them by Harms and communicate consistently with her to achieve A’s look and vision, ultimately critiquing work until the point where the designs are deeedm worthy for print.

“We assign articles to respective designers, we start iterations when we get the available copy and photos and then redesign as needed,” said Jacqueline Wammes, a designer and photographer for A Magazine.

Wammes, a senior photo illustration major, started with the fashion magazine as a freshman, and was hooked on the idea of working with A after learning about the content it produces.

Through Harms’s feedback on the designs submitted, Wammes and the rest of the design team revise their articles and talk about the look of the issue as a whole.

“We all want the print issue to look as amazing as possible so fixing things isn’t a big deal,” Wammes said. “A is a quality magazine that features articles surrounding the Kent community and beyond. I think it has a long life.”

All of the work that Harms and her design team develop contribute to the overall production in the creation of A, which is overseen by the publication’s editor, Kendall Becker.

“As editor, I oversee each department of the magazine,” said Becker, a senior fashion merchandising major. “I communicate directly with each department head to ensure everything is running smoothly, so I have equal responsibilities in print, digital and marketing.”

Becker became involved with A after being interviewed for an article about bloggers on campus. After discovering more about the magazine, she knew she had to be part of it.

“I think we have a really strong idea of who our target market is and what they want to see,” Becker said. “We try to keep our content both relatable and aspirational to allow our reader to learn something by picking up the issue.”

Describing itself as a publication offering relevant news in fashion, beauty and culture, A Magazine prides itself in its global lens by featuring the content of students from Kent but also from those studying in Florence, Italy and New York City.

Initially a women’s magazine called Artemis, A has transitioned to become an entity incorporating fashion, beauty and culture pieces as well as commentaries on the industry.

The magazine is drawing on a more mature and sophisticated vision and hopes to relay this in the print issue.

“I really wanted to show the more in-depth side to fashion,” Becker said. “I think it’s important to be able to tell a story and send a message using fashion and art as well as words.”

Becker recently spent a semester studying in New York and was left amazed with what she observed every day. She was continually inspired by the confidence she saw radiating off of New Yorkers in the way they carry themselves in the clothes they wear.

From her experience in New York, she was able to derive inspiration for the new print issue and use her experiences to bring to life a vision and deliver it to others.

“No one is afraid to strut down the sidewalk wearing the craziest of fashion, no one should ever be afraid to be themselves,” Becker said. “From there, we developed content around that idea; whether it’s embracing femininity, cultural norms or debunking millennial myths.”

A also hopes to bring more social awareness into its brand and publishes blogs online, including pieces commenting on Gucci’s anti-fur policy and the prevalence of sexual harassment in society and Hollywood.

A takes a broader look to not just fashion but also culture, so we’re not just clothes,” Harms said. “We try to incorporate that a lot more especially in blog posts.”

A’s articles are just part of an overall creative process involving hours upon hours of teamwork and weekly meetings with editors.

Editor meetings comprise of examining concepts and brainstorming ideas to plan what will go in the print issue and photoshoots, another major aspect of production and creation, usually occurs two to three times during the weekend.

Becker recognizes that in order to create this magazine, collaboration is key. She maintains though that her top priority is ensuring that the process of production is cohesive and portrays their message to their audience.

“Our team works incredibly well together,” Becker said. “The hardest part for me is just monitoring every little detail. Even the smallest things make a difference, so all of our staff triple checking the final content is essential.”

Becker, who describes personally reading each magazine she purchases word for word, believes that A’s sense of novelty is fundamental to its existence not just on campus, but in a world that continually doubts the lifespan of print publication.

“I don’t think print will ever die, but I think this trend of special or seasonal issues will be the future,” she said. “People don’t realize how much curation goes into making a print issue that just isn’t seen in the digital market.”

Almost an entire semester later, the 2017 print edition of A Magazine will arrive in the magazine’s office the first week of December.

After all the hard work the team has contributed, there is a mutual feeling of excitement shared by all involved. From editors to writers, there is a widespread feeling of anticipation for the moment to come where students will be able to hold what they created.

“I hope our audience picks up the magazine and the content helps them feel confident to be themselves,” Becker said. “Even though trends come and go, your own personal sense of style and empowerment is what’s important. This issue is a true celebration of our readers and our generation.”

Lauren Garczynski is the College of Communication and Information reporter. Contact her at [email protected]