LOU VEGA, ESPN the Magazine

1. where are you from and how long have you been an AD?
I'm originally from NYC and have been an AD with ESPN the magazine for three years.

2. lets talk briefly about your job - whats great about being an AD?
For me it's always exciting to think of reader being entertained or enlightened by something that started out as raw copy, a handful of white pages and the seed of a rough idea. I also enjoy seeing the process transformed by pulling various resources together along with inspirational elements from everything around me to visually tell a story in a fresh way.

3. how was your university experience - did you feel ready for the
real world upon graduation?

Aside from having some terrific professors and a great foundation at F.I.T., the best part of school was having time to devote to study design in my free time. For example when I'd have time between classes I would hit the library and sit for hours devouring art books and pouring through back issue of magazines and spending my time sketching. But school also left me technically unprepared for the real world. I didn't have sufficient experience with design programs which I had to learn on my first job. Most importantly school opened the door for my first editorial job when I entered the SPD student competition.
4. i love your type treatments man - where do all of these great ideas
come from?

I usually start sketching ideas as soon as I have text to read. If I'm lucky I'll have a headline as well and that will help me to figure out how I can play on words or expand on what’s happening in the image while keeping with the tone and mood of the story.

5. do you design any of your own fonts - or do you like to kinda
manipulate and play with pre-existing fonts?

I mostly use pre-existing fonts. I know typographers dedicate numerous hours perfecting minute details that I haven't the slightest knowledge of so I keep all my typeface doodles confined to my sketchbook.

6. what are you loving about design right now?
I enjoy seeing all the different styles and integration of different materials and mediums in what seems like a tidal wave of constant output by designers. I also love how design in general is recognized and appreciated more as a sign of quality and value. And of course how type is given center stage and being treated like the main art.
7. does your approach to design or layout change when you're working
with illustration as opposed to photography?

My aim is always to compliment the art and never to overpower it. Illustration takes extra consideration in my execution since my design are a bit like illustrations and it can lessen the impact of the art.

8. can you give a quick once over of your process when designing a page?
We produce the magazine in two weeks and it's amazing to see the orchestra of writers, editors, photo editors, designers, production, photographers and illustrators co-ordinate to meet deadlines. It always ends in a blur.
So the process I mostly remember is meeting to discuss how to art the story, beg for a headline, commission art, approve sketches or make a photo selection, meet once again with editors to talk about all elements in story like sidebars.
Then I start to brainstorm opener possibilities while trying to keep in mind how those design elements from the opening spread can be carried into the interior pages to maintain a cohesive packaged feel from start to finish. I'm also trying to avoid overused or cliched sports metaphors in the design.

9. who's work are you loving right now?
Too many to list, I tend to fall in love easily. Anything that is clever or graphic gets my attention. I've also been admiring alot of motion work on motionographer.com. I'm always fascinated by movement since I stare at static images all day. So, I'm always trying to figure out how I can add the illusion of action in my layouts. I also love anything with infographics.
10. what magazines do you pick up on the regular?
I'm a magazine whore. I'll pick up or read anything. If I had to name the last magazine I read and enjoyed it was Monocle and Milk magazine.

11. can you list me some go to fonts? and maybe also so steer clear of fonts?
I'm a typeface whore too! It's hard to pick a favorite, because the typeface is usually selected after I've decided on the direction of the design. And unlike other magazine that have a specific palette of typefaces to work with, we are constantly switching faces to stay fresh. So it's not uncommon to have every feature in our well have it's own distinct typeface. Part of the fun is tracking down a new typefaces that fits with the story. If I had to name a typeface I've recently purchased and love using is Quanta and Composite. And no typeface is off limits.

12. how important is down time for you / how are you spending it?
I really love what I do, but i also strongly believe in a work life balance, so it helps to have outside forces direct your thoughts away from work. Like most creative types I don’t have an on/off switch so being home gives an opportunity to focus my creativity on other things.

13. advice to new designers or illustrators breaking into the industry?
-I feel lucky that I've worked with really great people at each of my jobs. I would say choose to work for some one who will offer criticism and feedback that you will value and learn from.
-Be comfortable and confident presenting your design and defend and articulate your design decisions.
-I find that keeping a sketch book and Keep all rejected or killed layouts useful.
-Learn time management. That will go along way in being able to show you can handle bigger jobs.
-Lastly sign up as a SPD student member and enter every competition.

For Illustrators: Have a clean easy to navigate website. I'm not a big fan of Flash or sites that don't allow me to pull an image off their site.
Thanks Lou! you can see more of Lou's work on his site: http://louvegamedia.com/
Great stuff - Awesome spread with Alex Nabaum!!

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