You Gotta Have Friends….
When I first took the job as associate managing editor of Leader’s Edge nearly five years ago, my new boss Rick Pullen immediately asked me to join an art meeting.
I wasn’t due to start at The Council for a few weeks, but I was winding down my duties at my previous organization, so took a long lunch one day and walked the few short blocks to The Council’s offices. There I met a smart, creative, and fun-loving group of folks known as the Leader’s Edge art team. We spent nearly two hours discussing art and insurance and how to meld the two.
As a history and philosophy major with a master’s in fine arts, I have long searched for the happy professional marriage of my analytical and creative sides. I like to think, I like to research, and I like to dream. I had been concerned that a job with an insurance mag would stifle the dreamer. But the challenge of thinking critically about how to visualize largely theoretical topics left me feeling inspired and eager to begin this new professional journey.
Over the past 15+ years, the Leader’s Edge art team has developed a very well respected visual brand. They have won more than 40 awards for design, not to mention successfully transitioning to a square shape! They have even inspired advertisers to revamp their creative to better match the dynamic design.
When I took over Leader’s Edge in 2018, it was daunting. My predecessor had built a successful brand and, frankly, I didn’t want to screw it up. But in those moments of self-doubt, I found the real importance of having a team I trust to boost me up. They are an inspiring, creative bunch, and have never stopped bringing their best, even under new leadership with a different approach.
And then came the quarantine…
The first issue we published 100% virtually (our May issue) was hectic. We pivoted quickly on our editorial and had several features come in only days before we went to print. Admittedly, I could not pull it together to host a virtual art meeting. We traded some ideas via email and Dropbox, and after some back and forth, the art was complete.
But it wasn’t the same. Brad Latham our art director knew it, and so did I. We decided for June, we needed a meeting.
We set it up for a Thursday afternoon – happy hour style.
The banter, the jokes, the many, many opinions. The power of collaboration in creating is immense. It’s the building of ideas that happens in a live conversation. We see images, we react to them, others react to what we’ve said, and we keep going until we get somewhere – and it’s not necessarily a place we can reach on our own.
Spending two hours on Zoom talking about art was the best thing I could have done for Leader’s Edge. For the art and the editorial to remain inspired, we have to remain inspired. And while inspiration may happen in solitude, sometimes it needs more than that. Sometimes it needs the power of collaboration, real-time, to breathe life into it. For a brief moment, I started to lose what had drawn me to this role in the first place. Thank you, art team, for helping me remember.