Proof to Print

Half a decade ago, I wanted to be a maker, a constant learner. I wanted to be a magazine journalist so badly — I had tunnel vision. Dreams of living in the print editorial world have filled me with desire for nearly my entire life. Ever since I set foot in the Yearbook room my junior year of high school, I had been intrigued by the world of magazines. I had just transferred from Arcadia High to Charter Oak High School and since my parents had banned me from doing track in an effort to raise my grades, I needed a new distraction. So I decided to join every single other extracurricular activity I had always been interested in but had never tried before, half in an act of pseudo teen angst rebellion and half because I was genuinely curious.

Yearbook changed everything inside of me. I had always enjoyed things and drifted casually around them — music, running, hanging out with friends, over-caffeinating, drawing. But I had never wanted to be something before. I had never thought of anything in the realm of career, never thought about doing anything long-term. I had this vague idea before — “oh, maybe I’ll be a writer.” But yearbook inspired me and gave me a new identity, a first real desire to actually assume an identity.

I remember interviewing with the Yearbook’s main editors — Candice, the copy editor and later on editor-in-chief; Arwen, the layout and design editor; Chris, the photography editor. Even interviewing with them gave me a rush. I got in, and from that point on, I was inseparable from the Yearbook room. I spent nearly all my breaks and lunch periods in there, and I’d be there for hours after school. My parents were confused because they expected that I’d be back home earlier now that I didn’t have track practice, but I was always either still at Yearbook or Drama when they got home from work. I think I would have gone to sleep in the Yearbook room if I could have.

Candice and Arwen inspired me. I loved that they were confident, calm female leaders who were fun to be around. They were brilliant and clever, and I loved watching them in action. I’d watch Arwen execute gorgeous, innovative layouts — she had a progressive design mind. Candice had an equal appreciation for design. She was fashion forward, worked quickly and efficiently, and wrote excellent stories. She knew how to give direction to her writers and was great at editing their work for clarity and effectiveness without changing the stories.

I loved watching the collaboration process of an editorial team. I loved being a part of a team that would brainstorm everything from an overarching theme of the entire book that would accurately encapsulate what our year for our people was about to color schemes and senior quote formatting. They thought and talked about everything — copy, content, look, feel. Story ideas, seamless layouts, who to talk for the most complete information on a topic, what to watch for at the swim team meet to get the photograph that best embodied what our athletes looked like in action. And if one editor was burnt out on thinking about it, another editor or writer would swoop in with a fresh take on how to make the page better.

There really was nothing better to me that year than seeing things go from ideas to casual discussion and conception to draft to a solid proof — to several versions of that proof — to the final product, a full-color printed page in the book. It was an amazing process to witness over an entire year and to think that people did this with multiple books on a monthly basis in New York for the entire year thrilled me. It was because of them that I became obsessed with editorial for the rest of my life.