Week 3 Roundup


Yes, it’s true. Like other weeks in SPI, this week was sprinkled with lectures, panel discussions, workshops–you name it. But on top of that, our magazine imprint was due this week. That left us with some very late nights, redesigns, printing fiascos, etc. But we got it done.

On Monday, we met with the magazine program director, Victoria, and got some positive feedback on a new image for our cover design. Instead of a stock image of a business woman, our cover girl became a woman named Maria Forleo, a real entrepreneur that I happened upon on a blog that I read regularly. With that as our new cover image, we felt a glimmer of hope that we had successfully found a picture that matched our brand and mission statement.

I should say that this program (and quite possibly the magazine business in general) is extremely fickle. We presented our overall idea and mission statement to an admin a few days in, and we were met with some very harsh criticisms. Then, about a week later, we came back with an almost identical proposal and received enthusiastic approval. Go figure.

Tuesday, I headed into the city in the morning to work with my group. As the managing editor, I was recruited to do some layout and design work for the “under-the-hood” stuff. Basically, I took everyone’s writeups about advertising, business and marketing, design strategy, etc. and made it look pretty and cohesive with our magazine’s design. I enjoy that kind of work. It always takes longer than I think it will. But, I get great satisfaction out of completeness and organization.

Later in the day, we had our magazine tours. At the beginning of the program, we all signed up for different tours of magazine companies. I picked Travel + Leisure, an imprint put out by Time, Inc. Their offices are uptown, just next to Bryant Park. They are located in a building called the Hippodrome (read about the history of the building here). It was beautiful inside (all marble) and had very tight security.

Uptown is just beautiful, but oh so crowded. And that day, it was very hot. So, I was kind of grouchy. Yeah, I don’t do great in the heat. The tour was very fascinating, but for some reason, my mind wasn’t there. I was thinking about other things.

I headed home after my tour to keep working on layout and design, and stayed up way too late doing that. Our plan was to go to print on Wednesday so that we could be prepared for our presentations on Thursday. Everyone else in the group also worked late into the night.

On Wednesday, as a culmination of the magazine section, we had a closing address by David Granger, EIC of Esquire Magazine. The remainder of the day was spent scrambling to finish editing, design, printing, etc. Late in the day, we ran into a big hiccup with printing. All of the printing places were telling us that they would need at least 24 hours to print all of our pages. And that clearly was NOT going to work, since presentations were at 1:00 the next day. We were desperate. With nearly 350 full bleed pages to be printed, FedEx Kinkos quoted us an outrageous price and couldn’t even assure us a timely job. After many phone calls (and silent prayers, on my part at least), we found a place near Union Square. So, since my group members live close to Union Square, I bid my colleagues good night and I headed back to Brooklyn while they did the printing.

Almost done with this mountain of a project…

Thursday was the day. The magazine would be presented to the judges and we would be done with it. By 9:30, all 12 group members had trickled into NYU’s Woolworth Building. The exhaustion was on our faces. So. Ready. To. Be. Done. The entire morning was free time for us to prepare for our presentations. I was going to present the magazine’s art and design strategy. Our group as a whole had 15 minutes to talk all about our magazine: the brand, mission statement, design, digital media, social media, marketing, advertising, etc. 15 minutes seemed like a lot, but it worked out to be just enough.

At 1:00, with the 3 judges in their seats, the presentations began. The judges were:

  • Donna Lagani, SVP/Publishing Director, Cosmopolitan
  • Lauren Purcell, Editor-in-Chief, Every Day with Rachael Ray
  • Ben Berentson, Site Director, Vogue.com 

Out of 11 groups, we were chosen at random to be #8. It took forever for our turn to arrive. Surprisingly, I wasn’t that nervous. And I think we did pretty well. Our feedback from the judges was better than I expected. The judges loved the name of our magazine and thought it was right on brand. Some judges thought our magazine lacked a little heart. But, that’s feedback for you. It’s one of those things that an admin had previously urged us to avoid (in so many words) and so we didn’t include it. The process is all so subjective that it is nearly impossible to please everyone at every moment. What one judge likes, one might hate, or vice versa.

All 11 groups finished around 6pm, waited for the judges to deliberate, and the judges announced the awards. There were winners in a few categories, and then an overall winner. Each winning team won 2 bottles of wine and bragging rights. Seems meager for the hours that went into the projects. So be it. The big winner was the food mag entitled Silver SporkPLATFORM Magazine didn’t end up winning any awards.

Exhausted, I went home, showered, and crashed. But, no rest for the weary. We had to be to class at 8:15 the next morning.

On Friday, to finish up with magazines and introduce the book portion of the program, we all met Libby Jordan. She’s the admin for the book section. We also had a panel of SPI alumni and some training on navigating the job hunt. All valuable stuff, but just let me go home now! We got off at 3:00 and I ran for the door. My night consisted of me cleaning, doing laundry, and sleeping.

After some much-needed sleeping in, I woke up on Saturday and took my time getting ready for the day. I had plans to go to the Park Slope annex of the Brooklyn Flea and then head to Manhattan for another workshop for class.

The Brooklyn Flea was fun. The Park Slope version was tiny…maybe 6 or 7 vendors. I purchased 1 item: an December 1887 issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine. I thought it was so incredible to see what magazines were like 100 years before I was born. The ads on the back are so great. And it’s printed on newspaper print, no color. It’s a cool little piece to keep as an homage to what I love and to this experience.

The workshop this week was on the basics of HTML. I never quite feel like I can get a grip on the whole HTML concept, but this class was by far the easiest to understand. After some wandering downtown post-workshop (and subsequently finding myself at the Union Square Whole Foods), I ventured back to Park Slope.

I got to visit with Collin a bit. Always a treat. And we took the pups on a walk around Prospect Park. After saying goodbye, I explored a tiny bit of Windsor Terrace, the next area of Brooklyn just south of Park Slope. It had a cool vibe to it.

Today (Sunday), I wanted to visit a new ward. A while ago, I connected with a girl who served in my mission who happens to also live in the Manhattan YSA ward. After a subway ride of almost an hour, I showed up at that very ward. And it was nice to see a somewhat familiar face. I really enjoyed church. As always, I heard things via the speakers and the Spirit that I definitely needed to hear. Funny how that works out.


So, this week begins the book portion of the program. It seems less intense than the magazine part, but equally as interesting. I am excited. My new group is assigned the graphic novel book imprint, and I have been assigned as the book’s art director. This should be fun and interesting.

Here goes…


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