Interview with Roger Black

fAZ CABER: OUR bosses and news chiefs are not interested in design. Can the editor request to change the layout and place the amount of text that he wants, or is the form more important?

RB: It is clear that the form is more important, not everyone likes to read the entire package; instead people are happier reading summaries, highlights or conclusions. With all the distractions people have today, editors can not expect readers to go through the entire content — one subject at the least — starting from the first word and going all the way trough the end. Ask an editor to analyze how he reads the text and then, arrange some design structures to push the content to the top of the page. Most of all, the magazine should have a visual content and the text needs to leave space for this. That’s why I want to say that there is a need to use images that can tell their own stories.

Most magazines forget about telling stories with photos or illustrations, and use only art that repeats the text content — and what’s worst: that are barely even decorative.

FC: How long does it take to redesign a magazine? When do you think a change is needed in the looks of a magazine?

RB: It can take from a week to six months depending on the size of the effort and magazine. If you need to keep on working until the magazine “looks just the way it”s supposed to look”, the readers will perceive the changes as natural and that the magazine was always that way; when you reach that point, the design of the magazine will seem logical and you won’t need to redesign it, you will merely have to make a few “upgrades”.

FC: Could you tell us a little about the cover? When is there a need to change the cover and how do you best design one?

RB: The problem with covers arises when they seem all alike, if your cover seems like every other one in the newsstand, it is time to create a new idea.

FC: What can you tell us about the future of our profession? Will the internet revolutionize the way we work?

RB: Obviously magazines will find digital forms that will help them to publish their material, to increase their coverage and make their distribution easier. A model of what we can see in our digital future is in this Mexican website: Anything that people make will have a space in printed magazines, as long as there are people who read them.

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