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What is magazine creative direction?

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Free webinar with Alison Lowe

Written by
Megan St Clair Morgan
Published date
19 April 2021

Magazines are everywhere – embedded into our everyday lives, but what exactly goes into creating a magazine? With the insight of industry expert Giulio Mazzarini, a UAL short courses tutor and London based creative director and photographer – we’re delving into what magazine creative direction is, and how you can get started as a creative director yourself in visual communication design! Looking toward magazine graphic design and how you can implement creative direction concepts to design your own magazine using the widely known 4 F's – formula, function, format and frame utilising Adobe’s creative softwares – Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign.

With a vast amount of experience in publishing, having worked on the creation of the trend forecasting website, Giulio founded the communication studio GEM. His work has been seen in international magazines such as Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, Elle and Dazed & Confused. He has also contributed to the image development of brands, such as L'Oréal, Reebok, Aston Martin, Citroen and Selfridges.

So, what is Magazine creative direction? 

In basic terms it’s working to create exciting, attention grabbing magazines with and overarching viewpoint bringing all the elements of a magazine (images, layouts etc.) together to create a magazine that engages the specific audience it targets  – it’s what Giulio notes is a “fundamental creative contribution to a project”.

With so many magazines on the market, it’s important to publications that the visual communication design is clearly made for the target audience, Giulio mentions “the idea is that you might find a magazine that might not be appealing to you, is because it's not targeting to you.” Bringing the key point into focus, that as a creative director, we must keep in mind that we cannot please everyone...

It’s a job that pieces together the different layers of a magazine, a little like making a sandwich Giulio notes – “We don't simply design, or simply do communication – but we try to look at the different layers” creating a combination of the elements, that will make sense for the target audience.

Why your audience is important in every visual communication design decision

Your audience must be thought about at every step as a creative director – Giulio gives us an example “say we have classic car magazine and therefore the, language spoken is a language that is exciting for this traditional readership. The big beautiful red Ferrari, and we have a headline for Bergen's with bargains, with beautiful logo here, which remind us of Bentley, of other beautiful classic cars and so on. In this case, the language and tone of voice is in line with what the readers expect.”

3 womens magazine cover images


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