Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s been over a year since Chris Dixon left New York magazine to take the design helm at Vanity Fair. Upon his arrival, we started collecting the magazine; and thumbing its glossy pages has quickly become a monthly editorial design highlight. We’re super excited to have chatted with Chris. Here’s what he had to say…
How are things at Vanity Fair? You missing the weekly deadlines of New York?
I am really loving it here. Graydon and the whole staff are fantastic, and the people in the design and photo departments have been wonderful to get to know and collaborate with. I am not missing the weekly deadlines of New York! I think I was ready for a new pace of working. But I miss the staff there, and I do miss the challenge of seeing what can be accomplished creatively in, what was sometimes, one or two days.
What are the strengths, and weaknesses, of designing a monthly magazine compared to a weekly?
The strengths are that you have time to plan more ambitious visual projects. Also, there is time to work on and redesign all the other aspects of Vanity Fair – signage, video titles, events, etc., Weaknesses, I guess would just be that things can get worked on for too long, and you might lose that spark of the initial inspiration.
What were Vanity Fair's strongest design attributes when you started?
The magazine had a rich history of bold, confident design that really worked to showcase the photography and content. And it was consistent and always identifiable as Vanity Fair.
And what was not working as well as it could?
I think the two departments, Fanfair and Vanities, were due for a redesign, which we have done. And overall, just a freshening up of the typography and design systems has been ongoing.
What are its design strengths today?
The magazine has always had a successful visual identity, so we are just looking at ways to evolve it. I think the biggest strength today is that, even though we are slowly reworking parts of the magazine, it still maintains the visual DNA that makes it Vanity Fair.
You've been at the magazine for a little over a year now. Does it feel like your magazine? Does it have the Chris Dixon stamp?
I am happy with all the changes we have made, but I think it is just the beginning of the process. It will be a slow evolution that I think will just happen naturally over a few years.
We spoke with UK Harper's Bazaar creative director Marissa Bourke recently. She mentioned you as one-to-watch in 2013. What can we expect from you during the next 12 months?
That was nice of her, I will have to send her a fiver. This year we will be bringing in a custom designed typeface; will continue to collaborate with talented illustrators and new designers on projects; keep developing the tablet and mobile editions; and just keep on working to visualise the smart Vanity Fair content in new ways.
Finally, which magazines and editorial designers are you most excited about this year?