1. where are you from and how long have you been an AD?
I was born in Chicago but spent most of my life in California. I've been art director at various publications (T3, Computer Gaming World, Macworld) for the past 10 years.
2. how was your university experience - did you feel ready for the real world upon graduating?
I went to California State University, Chico, starting out as an art major. I developed a solid foundation in art, then decided I wanted to do something that was more stable financially. At that point I changed majors and put all of my creative energy into design.
I graduated with a BA in Communication Design. In the last year of school I got an internship at a local weekly newspaper. That turned into a full time job upon my graduation. The job entailed the entire editorial design of the paper, including the covers. At this point I knew this was something I wanted to do with my career. I've been in editorial design ever since. I feel like that internship was crucial in sending me on the path I've taken in my career.
3. Macworld is an awesome, hugely read mag - how thrilled are you to be directing its visual identity?
I always look back to the time when I was in college and subscribed to Macworld after I bought my first Mac. I could not have imagined that one day I'd be the art director there. It's an honor to have the job and I love coming to work every day (... or most days at least!).
4. what are some of the key responsibilities in your day to day role?
My position is a very hands-on job. I supervise one designer and multiple illustration and photography projects every month. I'm responsible for the look and feel of all editorial content in the magazine. In conjunction with our designer, I lay out the sections and features of the mag every month.
The cover is also my responsibility -- from developing a concept with the editors, to directing the photo shoot or illustration, to designing the covers. I generally design 20-24 covers every issue before we decide on the final one.
5. you hire illustrators all the time, how does someone get your attention?
I generally discover new illustrators through postcards or emails. Once I find a style I like, I'll generally utilize that person's talent more or less regularly for for an indefinite amount of time. Send me great work, stuff that sets you apart from the next guy and you'll have a much better chance of grabbing my attention.
6. what can an illustrator do to really piss you off?
Some illustrators seem bent on illustrating their own concepts for a given assignment. Sometimes that's fine, but there instances when it isn't. If you don't cooperate then there's a good chance I won't use your services again. At least give me a sketch for the desired concept, then do another with your own idea.
7. what are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?
Print is obviously in a continued decline. A lot of magazines aren't going to make it. But it's also an exciting time to consider what is next. Could a tablet save the magazine industry? Will the web continue to evolve to and become a place where magazines can thrive. Who know. Right now I'm just thankful to have a job.
8. what are you loving about design right now?
It's been really interesting to see how the web has influenced magazine design. You can see it in magazine navigation, photography, etc. You used to see that sort of influence over print design from television. Now the web influences everything around us.
9. what magazines catch your eye / do you just have to pick up?
I've always loved Esquire. Also a big fan of Bon Appetit -- both content and design.
10. how important is down time, away from the office etc for your creativity?
It's funny, you'd think with the economy slowing down work would be the same. I'm actually as busy now as I've ever been. My free time is generally consumed by other work-related projects. Free time away from work is usually spent doing freelance projects. In the rare event I have some down time, I try to stay away from design work, enjoying time with my family. Any amount of time away does wonders in getting me recharged for when I return to my work.
11. favorite font and why?
I'm a huge fan of Helvetica. i love it's simplicity and versatility. Distant seconds include Din and Gotham.
12. any advice for new illustrators just starting out?
If it's what you love to do, commit to it and don't give up. Get your work noticed and the assignments will come.
13. any advice for those looking to get into the magazine industry?
If you want to work in magazine design, go for it. Jobs aren't nearly as plentiful now as they used to be. The key here is to make yourself more valuable to the employer. Do this by broadening your area of expertise to web design. As we move forward, more and more publishers will be hiring people that are experts in both areas. Limiting yourself to print could prove to be a huge handicap.
Check out more of Rob's great design work on his website: http://www.robschultz.net