Makin’ Things Look Pretty

There’s more to the magazine than the photographers and writers.Someone has to put the whole thing together and make it look presentable, and that’s where the Art Director comes in. Matt Berinato is the Art Director here at Ride and we were able to pull him away from his Radiohead CD collection and magic markers long enough for him to answer some questions for anyone who has ever wondered what it takes to become an Art Director for a magazine.

What made you decide to become an Art Director?
I initially went to art college to study comic book illustration. I had grown up reading and drawing comics, so it seemed the most natural thing for me to do. It was during my junior year that I moved into an apartment with two graphic designers. The idea to switch my major to graphic design was planted during a conversation with one of my roommates about album covers; specifically Texas is the Reason’s Do You Know Who You Are. I really enjoyed the challenge that design offered, so I made the switch. Music and reading play a large part in my life, so I instantly gravitated towards producing designs for those mediums.

What kind of schooling did you have?
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

 credit: Jeff Zielinski

What kind of graphic design work did you do before you started working for Ride and how did it compare to what you do now?
I got my start as the Art Director for a fashion/entertainment magazine called Contents (it’s since gone out of business.) It was much different than working at Ride. I was more involved in editorial decisions and administration at Contents than I am today. My job is far more specialized now. I have very few responsibilities beyond designing the magazine here at Ride.

I have also been producing CD packages on the side since my college days. Working on these projects has never paid well, but I enjoy the challenge enough to continue to do them. These projects are infinitely more stressful than working at Ride, though.

I’ve been really lucky to have been blessed with great projects. It hasn’t all been excitement, though. I’ve had plenty of lousy projects, including designing a catalog for catheters.

What’s your favorite part of your job? And what’s the hardest part?
My favorite part of my job is that I’ve got a good boss. That can make or break a job.The most challenging part of the job is the ride to work (I don’t like being in cars).

I know you used to skateboard for quite sometime; do you think your experience with that might have helped you better grasp the BMX stuff?
Absolutely. I don’t see BMX and skateboarding being much different from each other. They just involve different tools. The cultures surrounding each sport are so similar as well. You’ll find the same passion and the same stupid crap going on in both BMX and skateboarding. I think a rider’s attitude is more significant than whether he/she rides a skateboard or bike.

So you get a bunch of photos, a story, and a page limit; how do get started with the layout? Where do you look for inspiration for new layout ideas?
I start a feature article by trying to come up with a design concept that best conveys what the story is about. That might involve different type treatments, colors, or illustrations.Most of my inspiration comes from other designers. I collect all sorts of design magazines, including Print, Communication Arts, Step, and How to see what the top designers are doing. I also look at other magazines like Esquire, Nylon, GQ, Details, annd ESPN for inspiration.

What advice can give any of the readers who are considering graphic design as a career?
Make the investment in a respected art college. Sure, you’ll be paying off your tuition until you’re fifty, but it is worth every penny. The best thing about attending a specialized art college is that you will be surrounded by artists at all times. In that artist-saturated environment, you’ll find that your education will continue outside of the classroom. You should constantly compare your work to professionals, rather than just your classmates, and seek out critiques of your work. If you are not pushing yourself to be the best in every class, the chances that you’ll be given exciting projects after you graduate will greatly diminish. Remember, there is always someone who gets stuck designing catalogs for catheters.