What It's Like to Be an Art Director at InStyle Magazine


Mariya Ivankovitser

There are a myriad of fascinating career paths to follow in the fashion industry, but some, like designers and editors, receive more buzz than others. As editors ourselves, we know that there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes, and much of it is just as cool and exciting.

To wit, the art director of a magazine—or, essentially, the person responsible for how every last detail in an issue looks. Talk about an amazing creative opportunity. To find out more about what the role entails, we spoke to InStyle’s über-talented art director, Mariya Ivankovitser, about her day-to-day life and how she got her start.

Who What Wear: What exactly does an art director for a magazine do?

Mariya Ivankovitser: An art director is responsible for designing layouts using specific typefaces, design elements, and photography—all for the purpose of telling a story. 

WWW: How'd you get your start as an art director? Was it something you knew you wanted to do? 

MI: I always loved magazines but never thought of it as a career. It always seemed out of reach—just something you hear about in the movies! In high school I worked on the yearbook as a designer, and by the end of the year, I did everything from take photos to write copy. While in college, I had an internship in the marketing department of a magazine, but after meeting the edit team, I realized that's where I wanted to be. After a few more internships—InStyle being one of them—I knew I wanted this to be my career.

WWW: Can you walk me through an average day in your life?

MI: My day is full of visual meetings with editors, run-throughs with the fashion department, and being on set to give direction to still-life photographers and prop stylists, and of course actually sitting down to design layouts.

WWW: What's the best part of your job?

MI: I collaborate with the most amazing team of graphic designers and editors. It’s a pleasure to come to work every day where everyone has such a passion toward the brand and making it the best it can be. Specifically to my job, I love telling a story through smart and beautiful design. 

WWW: What's the most challenging part of your job?

MI: I have designed so many stories about shoes, jeans, runway trends, you name it, and the hardest—but also the most fun—part is coming up with fresh and exciting ways to tell the same story using different visual treatments, packaging, and photography.

WWW: What would you say are some of the prerequisites for this job?

MI: Technical know-how of InDesign and Photoshop is a must, but so is having an understanding of the brand and what visuals best reflect it.  

WWW: What are your favorite sources for art and design inspiration?

MI: I have a ton of folders of inspiration tears from other magazines, ads, photography promos—anything from a department store window to a museum exhibit can strike an idea. But my obsession at the moment is Pinterest. It's a never-ending treasure trove of ideas from so many different sources. 

WWW: What's been your wildest or most memorable experience as an art director?

MI: The first day I walked into the InStyle offices for an internship interview, I had to walk past all these clothes on the floor and wondered why. … Now I know that's what happens at run-throughs!

What would be your dream fashion career? Sound off in the comments, and shop our favorite looks for your office holiday party!