Robert Newman lecture

Don’t miss this lecture…


Robert Newman, Design Director

6pm Tuesday, November 11th

University of Minnesota Duluth

Bohannon Hall 90

The Visual Lecture Series is free and open to the public.

Reception in the Tweed Museum following the lecture.

Download file

(poster by Mike Hagan)


Robert Newman was most recently the design director of Fortune magazine and the creative director of Real Simple. He has also been the design director of Entertainment Weekly, New York, Details, Vibe, Inside, The Village Voice and Guitar World.

view his work here


Newman and his teams have won numerous publication design awards and medals. In 2004, AdAge magazine named his Real Simple team the Creative Team of the Year.

As a consultant with Garcia Media, Newman worked on a variety of publication startups and redesigns, including the Wall Street Journal and Hispanic Business. On his own he has worked with a wide array of magazines and newspapers, consulting on issues ranging from staffing to cover design to overall art direction.

Newman was the editor of the music and culture magazine The Rocket in Seattle. As a partner in Square Studio, he was a media consultant for a broad range of political campaigns.

He is past president of the Society of Publication Designers, has been a frequent guest lecturer at the Poynter Institute, and speaks regularly to groups and conferences about publication design and art direction.


21 thoughts on “Robert Newman lecture

  1. I really enjoyed hearing how Robert Newman thinks about white space within a magazine . The mathematical logic he uses, which is not all that precise actually, is interesting. I got the feeling he was very concerned with balance and also with being able to explain ones choices when designing each piece. He wanted there to be a reason for everything, even if it only made sense to him.
    I also have an idea how he came up with his chose to redesign the Newsweek magazine. I went on line and read the current Newsweek reviews. Robert Newman is following the comments/criticisms made about wide audience and how it doesn’t really give you much depth. It also mentions the news not being current by the time it is printed.
    I enjoyed his talk. I was actually inspired enough to go out and purchase 5 magazines which I then ordered the subscriptions to online. I should have done this a long time ago. Lori


  2. I was inspired by Robert Newman’s lecture, and even more so when he came to speak with our class. I have never thought much about magazine design, but I am definitely interested in layout design.

    I really enjoyed hearing about all the specific work that went into each magazine cover. For example, I thought it was interesting how one of the covers of Real Simple was a closet organizer, but apparently was created from many photographs taken of that organizer on different days. Also, I was surprised when he told us about how they lit up the building for the 75th Anniversary issue of Fortune. I enjoyed his lecture very much.


  3. I really enjoyed Bob Newman’s lecture. It was really interesting hearing about all the different magazine companies. I loved seeing his in progress projects for NEWSWEEK, that he showed us in class. That was probably the most inspirational for me.


  4. For me the most interesting thing about hearing Bob Newman speak was the way he talked about the experience of reading a magazine. He described the way he wanted the reader to experience the magazine and the messages he wanted to send them. For example he talked about placing the columnist sections (all text) right at the beginning to set the tone of Newsweek as a serious news magazine. After that he said he placed a two-page photo spread almost as a resting point before diving into the main articles. He mentioned his intent was to slow the reader down with his redesign so that they would take time to really absorb the information and not just flip through it for something exciting to jump out at them. I found it very interesting to see behind the scenes of what kind of thinking goes into a national level magazine and came away with some insights that apply to all types of design.


  5. Bob Newman was inspiring for sure. Some of the highlights for me were certain things he said in the lecture and when he came to class, including…

    -The visual voice is just as important as the editorial voice in a magazine.
    -Part of the calming effect they’re going for with Real Simple even includes the paper it’s printed on.
    -A real positive thing about working on magazines is that you’re constantly producing and your work has to be effective.
    -A negative thing about working on magazines is that people are constantly mitigating what you do.
    -Villains on the cover work better than heroes.
    -Most important things to think about when coming up with a design is whom, where and how the the reader will read the magazine.


  6. He was better than I expected. He appeared to me as just a regular Magazine cover graphic designer with what seemed to me as a fairly mediocre portfolio. But I was proved wrong. He was really funny and seemed to know what he was talking about.
    I loved hearing about all the Art Directors (that hired him) getting fired. The diverse work environments of each place made me interested in someday actually working in designing magazine covers/layouts. Though that sort of design isn’t my ideal job, he made it sound like something I wouldn’t mind doing.
    What I found particularly fascinating was how much effort, time, and consideration was put into each cover. The editing and combining of photos was insane. The situation with the house was the most extreme. They asked the owners if they wanted the tree cut down, for the sake of a magazine poster. Unbelievable!


  7. I loved the lecture and what he talked about in class. What I found most helpful was how he divided what he was going to talk about into three parts, Career trajectory, Project beginnings, and then tricks. This really helped to know what was going on. No other visiting lecture has really done that.
    I loved what he had to say about Real Simple. How’s its the type of magazine that is for a working, busy mom. It’s supposed to relax and calm. He also said that this magazine is supposed to create the fantasy and illusion that life is simple and can be perfect in the midst of the chaos.
    I also enjoyed hearing that there are difficulties with photography. Corporate CEO’s are some of the worst people to photograph. I loved listening to the complications with Dieter Zetsche. The photo was very interesting even though he insisted the car be in the photo.
    It was also interesting to hear his answers from the questions we had at the end of the lecture. I respect his ability to be able to tell us what his personal greatest achievement is/was and also what his worst mistake has been. I have definitely learned from Robert.


  8. It was a pleasure to have Robert Newman in class with us. I was not able to make the lecture because I was working. I got a good feeling from who he was when he spoke to us in class though. He seems very cool about his design. Seeming to be perfectionist with editing (which he should be) but in a laid back way. Its hard to imagine desinging not only the cover of a magazine but the over-all look and feel of it. I seem to change in my own style every project slightly. I guess you just have to find your niche like Bob has obviously done with Magazine editing/design. I don’t think it’s for me, but I found it very interesting to find out how a magazine like Newsweek is trying to change it’s tune.

    Kudos to Roberto


  9. I was really interested in hearing about “real�? life working for the magazine industry. Since this is something I’m interested in it was helpful and inspiring to see real work and hear from a professional in the field. I had a lot of questions about the industry and I felt like Newman did a really good job presenting his work and explaining the process and work he did for each company – which companies he liked, which he didn’t, things the companies should have changed or did well. Newman has worked for so many different companies and in so many different styles it felt like he really knew how to relate to each person in the audience. Sometimes we hear an artist lecture gearing toward one specific style and it can be harder to relate if it’s not a style you’re interested in, but Newman touched on so many different levels and I heard a lot of good feedback from others in the audience.
    In class I asked Newman quite a few questions relating to magazine design and the industry and he did a great job answering those. He had some great suggestions to the class about our future and finding jobs. Overall Robert Newman was an inspiration and a pleasure to have at UMD.


  10. I found the Robert Newman lecture to be quite insightful. The advice and opinions that were given by Robert Newman are probably some of the most solid I have heard since he has been in the industry for around 30 years. He ended up speaking a lot about what goes on behind the process. I also really enjoyed his talk to our class about preparing for interviews by having a website.


  11. After whipping out those posters in class it was really cool to see the real person we were capturing. He came with a lot of good information. It’s amazing what he’s done throughout his career. What really caught my attention was:
    -Instead of photoshopping in the lighting of the side of the Fortune Mag. building they actually went in and had people run around physically turning the lights on after they mapped out the whole building to make sure they’d have it right.
    -In Real Simple people get a calmness from the magazine from it’s layout and visual feel down to the way the paper feels. I never thought that the way paper felt would have that much of an effect.
    -It was interesting to hear about how many magazines he’s actually worked for and the one he worked for the longest he was the least happy at because it felt like his creativity was being blocked and how he stressed that that was something that was very important to him. I feel it should be to all designers as well because once you have a creative block it starts having a big affect your work.
    -It was also interesting to hear that someone who is so high up in the business was a shy person. I wouldn’t have guessed that just because of how long he’s been in the design world and how he was in the lecture.
    -The thing that really blew me away was how he said he’s had no formal training. I’m always fascinated with people like that.

    Robert Newman was a very inspiring, down to earth, funny man and we were lucky to have him come speak to us.


  12. I thought the Robert Newman lecture was very inspirational. Is what I found most interesting was him showing his in process work. Someone with so much experience still makes little mistakes. He was very down to earth and spoke the truth. I really appreciated the information he gave us that would be helpful for our current project. He said to pay attention to layout before design. I also really liked his idea of alignment being the key to design and how he has his own mathematical reasoning to everything he does.


  13. I enjoyed having Robert Newman in class with us. It was really interesting to see what he was working on for Newsweek. I liked that he showed us the ‘rough’ work he was in the middle of. He made it possible for me to see what it might be like working for a magazine. His lecture was more about the final magazine covers. I liked that he told us ‘secrets’ about some of the different magazines. Like how they pretty much created Oprah on one of her covers and how they actually had people keep the lights on for the 75th anniversary cover. I also liked how he told us his editors kept getting fired, he made the presentation very entertaining. Although it was interesting to here these stories, I would have liked to see more process work for the covers he showed in his lecture.


  14. I thought Robert was an excellent speaker to bring in. I’m not looking to go into the magazine design field, but I always find it interesting how any designer draws inspiration and applies their individual style to different works. I love finding new websites and he had a bunch of good ones:,,, (plus he has some good ones on his site as well). I also liked the way he used grids and the importance of lining everything up. I know we’re supposed to do this but I find myself slipping until someone reminds me. His visit was a good reminder to stick with basic design principles and always keep an eye in the design field and what is going on elsewhere.


  15. I enjoyed Roberts Lecture. It was intriguing to hear about his experiences in the magazine world and his take on design techniques. When he came into class was the point that I was blown away. When he presented his Newsweek idea, I thought to myself this is a man that knows his stuff. I always thought this the instant I knew he was coming here, but it was awesome to hear him talk about his process. His idea on where titles should go and how negative space should be used were all solid design concepts. The professional attitude that he showed when giving the lecture and when he came into class was another thing that caught my eye. He took everything thing he did seriously and understood what he did and why.


  16. I definetely enjoyed Robert Newman’s lecture and I think he’s an inspiration to all of us. To students like us, it was nice to see where we can go in the field and how far you can go. I liked how he explained the career as a process and each single part was its own expirience in itself. He worked for multiple companies and magazines but he served slightly different roles in all of them and through that showed his diversity. It was cool to see how he drew inspiration from certain ideas and themes and applied it to his work. He seemed very “down to earth” and showed us that even the experts make mistakes and that great design takes time. I also learned a valuble lesson in that the ability to “adapt” to certain things or “change on the fly” is a crucial part of the business. Im also thankful for the information he shared with us on how to get started, with internships and such, and eventually land a successful job in the field. Very solid presentation and artist. Thanks Bob!


  17. It was fun to discuss magazine design in class with Bob. He gave some sweet insight into the trends in design that are happening, and how the magazine industry is having trouble competing against the web. Publishers are kind of forcing to really narrow their target audience to try and keep sales going.


  18. I was lucky enough to be able to go to both his lecture and see him speak in class, and both were extremely inspiring and informative! It was especially informative because we are just beginning to work on magazine spreads, which I would really like to pursue, but don’t have very much experience in creating. He also answered many general questions we had about being in the business of graphic design. Being a junior, I need to really start worrying about what I need to accomplish before I graduate. It was good to hear his thoughts of what he thinks we should spend more time doing and worrying about. It was also neat to hear what type of person he would hire into his business. All in all, it was a great experience and presentation, and I am very greatful for his presence!


  19. Bob’s lecture was very interesting for me, simply listening to him describe the various elements of his professional work. It was stimulating to hear about how he ended up jumping from magazine to magazine for awhile, and how he started his career.

    I thought the most profound things I took away from Bob’s visit was what he said in class, actually. When he discussed how it doesn’t necessarily matter how much school you’ve been in for design – what matters if your ambition. Showing you’re dedicated by practicing design, and not just going to school for it. Doing internships, and being involved in other things to build your portfolio with things other than school work – that’s really what I needed to hear.

    I guess, for me, grad school might have been something I had on my mind. But now I’m not sure that it wouldn’t be better for me to just go to work right away and gain experience. I think that will be the path I choose, but Bob’s class lecture really helped me with that issue.


  20. Robert Newman was definitely a new face in the classroom, and he earned my attention instantly. I enjoyed his personality and presence. He was wise yet personable and showed some humor as well.

    The things he said in class were very informative and covered a lot of issues of design that I hold as important but never really heard from other designers in lecture. He spoke about how crucial ALL the space in a piece is and how scrutinizing it can be to reach the right size font.

    He inspired me to get more involved in projects outside of school to juice up my portfolio. I will be working on a website for sure in the near future as well as finalizing some prints that I have already to go.


  21. It was fun to have Bob Newman in class. He brought up some new things about the magazine industry that I didn’t know about. I thought it was super kind of him when he added that if we wanted to ask him anything he would be willing to give feedbacks.


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