Job as an art editor

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Andrew Butler is art editor on a magazine. He improved his chances of employment in this very competitive field by contacting magazines and offering to do short-tem work without payment.

Can you describe your role as an art editor?

I am responsible for the design of the magazine, making sure that the contents look good on the page. I also commission photographers and illustrators to produce images which illustrate stories and make the magazine look likely, colourful and interesting. I design advertorials (advertisements that look like magazine features) and booklets which we sometimes include on behalf of some of our major advertisers.

What does the job involve?

I use desktop publishing program which opens with a set of blank pages on the screen. I design the magazine cover and arrange the stories, pictures and adverts on the pages so the magazine is attractive and easy to read. If a magazine looks boring, no-one will buy it.

Do you have a regular work routine?

Because I work on a monthly magazine, my routine varies from week to week. At the beginning of the month it can be relatively quite, so there is time to plan and organise. Towards the end of the month, I'm always very busy designing and checking pages to send to the printer to meet the deadline.

Who else do you work with?

In our office we have four full-time staff members. I also work with many photographers, illustrators and freelance designers. It's important to build good relationships with skilled freelancers, so I can rely on them to produce top quality work.

What skills do you need to do your job as an art editor?

Computer skills are vital, and you need to be confident at using page design software. Understanding your market is another important skill – designs that might work well in a fashion magazine would not appeal to readers of 'Rugby World'. You also need good communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team.

What hours do you work?

Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm. However, on the week the magazine goes to press, I may have to work extra hours to make sure the magazine hits its deadlines and goes to the printer on time.

How did you get into magazine design?

I was studying design at college and had arranged work experience in a design studio. After two weeks' work experience on a magazine, I was really keen to look for work in this field. Once I finished my college course, I contacted all the magazines in the publishing group.

Someone told me that the publishing house ran its own graduate trainee scheme and suggested I apply. I was successful and spent two years working as a graduate trainee on Rugby World and Amateur Photographer.

What do you like most about your work?

When I first started in this industry, it was really exciting to see my work on the shelves in the newsagent's.

What work ambitions do you have?

I would love to have my own design company, and to be involved with a dynamic new popular magazine.

Andrew's route to his job as an art editor

  • GCSEs
  • BTEC National Diploma in Graphic Design
  • While studying did evening courses in desktop publishing and A level graphics
  • Two year traineeship with IPC magazines
  • Current job

Andrew's tips

  • Work experience is an important step towards finding a job.
  • Read books on graphic design – they will give you a useful background to the subject.

Magazine art editor related jobs

  • Advertising art director
  • Graphic designer
  • Illustrator
  • Origination printer
  • Technical illustrator

Salary of an art editor

  • Salaries start around £15,000, rising to £25,000 with experience and up to £30,000 and more on national, large-scale publications.

Steps to become an art editor

  • There are no specific entry requirements, but most entrants are trained to HNC/HND or degree level.
  • Qualifications in graphic design or other visual arts subjects are the most relevant.
  • Employers will expect you to be familiar with range of design software packages and to have an impressive portfolio of work.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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