Jordan Sellergren submits to The Pitch Questionnaire
Jordan Sellergren is the monthly magazine designer at The Pitch. She works at Little Village Magazine and also moonlights as a musician. She answered The Pitch Questionnaire about what makes her tick, what she loves about design, and what the editorial design industry needs more of.
The Pitch: What got you started with design? What made you decide to concentrate on magazine design?
I studied illustration in college but secretly always wanted to be a designer. I remember saying that I wanted to illustrate for the New Yorker… when really I wanted to do layout.
What about magazine design is the most challenging? What is your favorite part?
The most challenging part of magazine design is constantly, endlessly meeting deadline (and building your life around the deadline). There is no room for negotiation in print. If you don’t have the thing done, you have to send it anyway… so it better be done. That will keep you on edge for the last couple days of production.
My favorite part is making a magazine that really feels cohesive and fun… when you have the feeling that each spread is really flowing, engaging, and offering something new and valuable to the reader, and that the magazine as a whole is an object that I (and my editors!) are very proud of.
How did you land your current role at the design studio you work at? Any tips on where to find this type of work?
I’ve been the art director at Little Village Magazine and production manager at Little Village Creative Services, which is an ad agency that branched out from the magazine, since 2016. Back in 2013 I was asked to do freelance ad design for the magazine, did that as a contractor for a few months, and then was asked to come aboard full time for magazine layout and client work! I recommend developing a few good freelance partnerships. They can definitely bloom into a fuller position.
Do you prefer working at a studio or freelancing? Which is more creatively enriching/exciting?
My preference is full-time magazine layout, but within that exist a lot of customer and contributor relationships that mimic the sort of partnerships one develops as a freelancer. Magazine work is my favorite part of my job because it involves not only design, but content development. As someone who is passionate about my community and truly seeks to uplift and celebrate its voices, that’s a major part of why I love what I do.
What are your tips on working in the editorial design industry? What can I do as an upcoming designer to succeed in this field?
Read magazines. That’s the best possible thing you can do.
What is the current state of the print design industry. Do you think it will last or will everything switch to digital in the next couple of decades? Is there a long-lasting future in this industry?
Print is not dead because sensory beings need to feel and smell stuff. We will always be drawn to the object. As long as the industry can find innovative ways to engage readers and become increasingly sustainable, print will live on. That said… It’s never a bad idea to learn WordPress.
What, in your opinion, is the editorial design industry currently lacking? What kind of additions would improve it?
Voices and perspectives. As with so many industries, the elite gatekeepers are too often white cis men and women.
Is editorial design (and design in general) financially sustainable? Do most designers you know have multiple jobs?
I know plenty of aspiring designers who struggle to make ends meet on this work alone, and moonlight as servers, illustrators, musicians, municipal waste collectors… what have you. It’s a good idea to stay aware of the possibility things will change and layout jobs will become unrealistic, especially as we compete with technology. Definitely learn to work with your hands, garden, be open to doing different things. We’re up against the highest possible profit margin like most other workers in this society.
I heard you’re also an extremely talented musician apart from being a designer. What kickstarted your music career? What similarities do you find between pursuing music and design?
I’ve always dabbled in music but was going through some challenging emotional times at one point in my late 20s. Lots of things I needed to work out, so I bought a little guitar and started writing about them. I remember thinking that I had finally found my calling. Finishing a song was like being in love. My sister said, why don’t you write an album? It hadn’t occurred to me till then, but I did and went on from there. There’s a lot of connection between these two pursuits, music and design, but the most obvious one for me is that it starts out a mess of an idea but, if successful, becomes a well-organized, elegant expression. Also, I do not have to pay a designer to do my records and promo…which helps.