Veronica Ditting on the importance of editorial design

The art director of Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman explains why her editorial design experience informs all her other design work.

Veronica Ditting is an award-winning independent graphic designer and art director. She was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, grew up in Germany and is currently working in Amsterdam and London. Here she explains how her editorial design experience informs all her design work.

How much do magazines influence your more corporate client work?

Using an editorial design approach is key to all projects I work on, whether it's a magazine, a book, a website or a visual identity. The process might be a bit different with each project, but I always take a very editorial approach, motivated by content.

Where does your fascination with editorial design stem from?

Studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam definitely influenced me. It was never about the client, but about what part you can play in the project. The term 'client' was actually a big taboo: the preferred term was 'collaborator'. After graduating, this approach became an integral part of my practice.

Can a designer ever replicate the best magazines' strong editor-art director relationship with a client?

Regardless of how big or small the team, as a designer it's about the dialogue you have with your collaborators: editor, photographers, writers – or client. If you feel like someone you're working with doesn't have the same standards or different taste levels as you, you'll have a tough time making it work.

During the first meeting for a potential new project, I make sure clients understand my way of working. Often designers are just given a piece of text and asked to lay it out. For us, it's about dialogue. Design and editorial influence each other until the very end.

As with Fantastic Man, The Gentlewoman's identity is emphasised by its consistent design

This kind of interplay between design and content is crucial in great editorial design. Does corporate work present more of a challenge here?

Sometimes clients aren't used to working with a designer, or even with a writer. There can be different ideas of what material is acceptable to use. It has definitely happened in the past that a client has supplied poorly written text and unusable images, and I've had to come up with other solutions.

I'd find it rather dull to have to provide only a visual solution to a problem: for example, receiving all the assets for a project without discussing them. In my experience, people are often relieved when someone offers them an outside perspective.

Words: Jeremy Leslie

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 229.