5 In-House Design Teams on Working, Laughing & Learning

Embracing Change at HousingWire Publishing

Now, let’s hear from Rosangel Torres, senior art director at HousingWire Publishing, and learn all about this in-house designer’s journey in rapidly changing markets.

Rosangel Torres, senior art director of the inhouse design group at HousingWire Publishing

Rosangel Torres, senior art director at HousingWire Publishing

HOW: What’s the day-to-day like for you and your fellow in-housers?
Torres: Every day is different. As a designer I get to see things every day, things never seen before. This is especially so, where in the Housing and Finance industry, we’ve seen drastic changes since the Housing Crisis in 2008. My design and ideas must evolve faster than the industry, which makes everyday work more diverse and dynamic. I’m very passionate about providing the visual story to something, and it is rewarding to be able to contribute to the accounting of the story of the evolution of the Housing and Finance Market of the U.S. in the last decade.

How’s the relationship between your department and the rest of the company?
Great. Creative earns respect among peers. Creative achieves this through always trying to produce good work, meeting deadlines, being patient and kind to those unfamiliar with our environment, being flexible when asked and always reliable. Ours is culture of trust and we work from home two times a week, for example, which nurtures self-responsibility and accountability. This is key for all of us getting our work done and doing our best to come up with great ideas and great execution.

What’s the biggest lesson you and your team have learned this past year?
You need to be ready. The Housing Economy improved tremendously in the last year; something we knew about and began preparation [for] a few years ago. There’s no room for getting too comfortable. Even though we produce good work and meet deadlines, we live in a world that changes faster than ever, as do design and technology. Every day is a good opportunity to learn something new and to do something out of our comfort zone.

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Tell us about a recent success and how you and the team celebrated.
We bring innovative design to an industry that’s set by very conservative standards. We make our name by being unique—being visually arresting definitely gives us the spotlight, and we now drive more traffic than ever. All this makes us the number one news source in our industry.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you and/or your fellow in-housers?
A client came to a meeting and brought me cookies, and I as I welcomed them I placed the cookies on the front counter while we were in the meeting. When we came out of the conference room I see all employees holding a cookie and eating them in front of us, then someone said, “We got free cookies! Would you like want one?” Unfortunately, there was none left!

Teamwork at Riverhead Books

Our next stop is Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Group (USA), where we get a taste of the book-design scene from the Riverhead team.

inhouse design team at Riverhead Books

HOW: What’s the day-to-day like for you all?
The day-to-day usually involves juggling a few different tasks at a time. We might be working on a new cover design while also building out a previous design for a mechanical and prepping a different file to go to the printer. We have also become more involved in the marketing and publicity aspects of our imprint and sometimes generate content for Instagram or adapt our cover designs to other marketing materials like creating videos or brainstorming ideas on how to extend the reach of the cover “brand.”

FoxHow’s the relationship between your department and the rest of the company?
In our case we’re lucky to have a lot of overlap and collaborations between our art and marketing and publicity departments. It allows us to widen our reach visually and gives us the opportunity to contribute ideas to aspects of publishing a book that traditionally the art department doesn’t get the chance to be a part of. This in turn, I believe, leads to different kinds of thinking when it comes to designing the covers.

What’s the biggest lesson your team has learned this past year?
Our team has worked on quite a few projects that required a lot of combined effort. We’ve really learned the importance of collaboration and teamwork. By utilizing each other’s strengths, both amongst ourselves and in collaboration with other departments, we are able to efficiently complete projects and bring a lot of creativity to the table in ways that would not have happened had we been working on our own.

Tell us about a recent success and how the team celebrated.
Earlier this year we introduced our new colophon, designed by art director Helen Yentus. In typical Riverhead style, we turned the the new design into a two-week social media event. The colophon was blown into glass, engraved on a cat collar, painted on nails, animated with clay, shaved into someones head, made with fire, and even tattooed onto the of ankle of a publicity person. The whole week was a celebration, and we topped it off with a delicious colophon cake.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you and/or your fellow in-housers?
We recently had an in-house designer whose own nose was prominently displayed on a cover design (and then inevitably critiqued by the author).

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