#SNDSF speaker Darren Sanefski shares a look behind the magazine covers

darrenSanefskiDarren Sanefski is an assistant professor at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at University of Mississippi and the education director for the Society for News Design. An award-winning designer, he joins the #SNDSF program to share research from the Magazine Cover Project, which analyzed how design choices have measurable impact on newsstand sales.

Tell me about your background in editorial design and what you teach at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.

I started my design career as a freelance illustrator for the Syracuse Newspapers, creating illustrations for the Herald American Sunday Op-Ed page. After a paid internship there, and a brief stint with the Ithaca Journal, I returned to the Syracuse Newspapers, where I worked more than 20 years. I left in 2009 as Sports Design Editor.

My first teaching experience was as an adjunct at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications more than 10 years ago. While working on my masters degree in multimedia design, Newhouse hired me full time as Assistant Professor (non-tenure track). In 2012, I moved to the University of Mississippi to become Assistant Professor of Multiple Platform Journalism at The Meek School of Journalism and New Media, where I teach graphic design, visual branding design, UX/UI design, digital publishing, motion graphics and 3D modeling.

I continue to design editorial as presentation editor for Via Corsa and New York Horse magazines.

Your session at SNDSF will focus on the Magazine Cover Project, a study of how magazine cover design elements affect newsstand sales. So can you give us a sneak preview of your talk, what is one choice that can have positive impact?

The Magazine Cover Project examines design choices that may affect newsstand sales. For example, what is the power of shapes on a cover? Could it be that circles cause a decline in sales? Research shows that among magazines priced below $5, those without circles fared better in sales than those with even one circle.

What are you most looking forward to at SNDSF?

I am looking forward to attending as many data visualization presentations as possible and meeting new people – especially students and educators.

What advice do you have for students and young professionals searching for inspiration and opportunities to expand their skills?

Inspiration is easy to find in the passion of the many presenters at SNDSF, not to mention in a creative city like San Fransisco – from its architecture to signage to graffiti. Be a sponge, look at everything, except your phone! As for opportunity, don’t be scared or shy. Introduce yourself to everyone! SND people are the nicest, most helpful I’ve ever had the pleasure to rub shoulders with.

Any tips for student or first-time attendees from SND’s education director?

It can be quite overwhelming at first, take a deep breath. Don’t just hang with friends and/or coworkers, try to make connections with other people — professionals AND other students. The design world is small and the ties and friendships you make through SND can last a lifetime. I’m always amazed how often I cross paths with fellow designers, educators and SND members.

About Courtney Kan

is a designer at The Washington Post and the editor of SND.org.

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