Becoming Creative Director for the Lexington Line
posted by Claire Charlton
I always thought I was just a writer. Although I had been doing graphic design for four years before I got to LIM, I had been writing a lot longer. Throughout my years in high school, I redesigned my whole school newspaper into more of a magazine format and worked as a graphic designer for a local publication, so frankly, I do not know how I did not get it.
At the risk of sounding ignorant and out of touch with who I was, I did not believe I was creative. LIM quickly helped me realize that I knew more than I thought I did about graphic design. Through The Lexington Line, I found what my true talents were, how I could use them in a way I enjoyed, and honestly, that I was not meant to do something I thought I would do for years of my life. Cognitive dissonance definitely took effect for a while, as it is a little bit of a shock to change gears from one dream to another. And it is not that I was upset about it or pressured into making a change I did not want to, it was simply the fact that it was a new idea.
On my first day of college, I was on a mission. I knew I needed to find the Writing Center and talk to John Deming, the Director of the Writing Center and faculty advisor for The Lexington Line. I went straight to his office and explained what I wanted to do and he kindly told me what positions were open. At first, I wanted to be an editor, but my gut told me to ask one key question that changed my course. I asked if I would be able to design anything as an editor. He explained that the editorial side of the magazine does not create any layouts, but that the Creative Director was looking for an assistant. It was right then and there that I made a decision that has benefited me greatly.
Before I knew it, the Creative Director had chosen me to work with her. Now at this point, I was very nervous and lacked confidence in my designs. I helped her with what she asked and tried to build a relationship with her and the staff, but kept my designs on the downlow. No one had ever really looked at a design that was, for lack of a better word, me. I wanted to impress the people I was working with, not because they expected perfection, but because I did. I was and am still finding my perfect design aesthetic, but when they asked to see what I was working on, they loved it! I could not believe that such talented and amazing people, whom I looked up to so much, liked my design as much as I did. That gave me the confidence boost I needed.
At the end of the semester, it was time to fill the positions for the next. Being a freshman who had only been an assistant for one semester, it seemed impossible that I might become one of the highest positions on the magazine. Through the encouragement of my friends on and off the staff, I decided to interview to be the Creative Director anyways. I prepared like crazy. I redesigned and rehearsed my powerpoint for weeks, but somehow, it worked. I asked them to take a chance on me because I had the passion and the drive it took to do it and they respected my pitch. This was another growing point for me. I knew what I wanted, prepared for it, and went for it. Regardless of the outcome, I knew I would have tried my best and that was enough for me.
As the Creative Director, I get to come up with and run the editorial photoshoot, design layouts for the magazine, and manage a team of designers who also create layouts. For the Spring/Summer 2020 photoshoot, I managed to get The Metropolitan Building as our location, a place where magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair have shot at. I guess I should put bargaining in my job description as well, because that took some negotiation. The shoot turned out amazing due to the location and everyone involved. Our nod to the 1920s was a success! As far as the designs of the actual magazine, I wanted to go bold and funky. I am a maximalist at heart and wanted to put my mark on the magazine while still staying true to The Lexington Line image. Overall though, the greatest thing I have gotten out of being Creative Director is my voice. I have really grown from being more shy to knowing who I am and being able to assert that when I need to. Even my advisor, John Deming said he has noticed it. I am already forever grateful for The Lexington Line and all of the staff and I am only two semesters in. I cannot wait for more!