The working life of Jo Levitas, Art Director of Healthy & Healthy For Men

Jo Levitas, Healthy and Healthy for Men magazine Art Director

I joined River as an Art Director after working on various magazine titles covering interiors to travel and food to parenting.

Jo Levitas, Healthy and Healthy for Men magazine Art Director

Now, after five years here, with my slippers now firmly under the bed as it were, I feel more than part of the furniture.

My role as Art Director is varied and fast-paced – and I think that’s why I love it.

I split my time between healthy and Healthy For Men, and then chop it up further with cover design page layouts, picture research, online graphics, client requests, creating presentation visuals, marking up files for repro, approving the printer’s proof, with the odd meeting and brainstorming session thrown in for good measure!

I always start my day as early as possible to check emails and create a plan of action – usually with an on-brand organic bowl of something, or avocado on something, I work on healthy after all!

Then the fun begins! My core focus is on healthy, as it’s the larger title and I could be designing all sorts of topics from fibroids, allergies and autism to in-vogue fitness classes and on-trend recipe pages. If the page needs an image sourced I will take my time going through the picture libraries as these topics can be sensitive and very difficult to illustrate. With 100+ pages in healthy, not to mention Healthy For Men (60+ pages), I have to use my time wisely…

The cover is a huge part of my job and it can make or break an issue. The cover model has to be right for our client (Holland & Barrett), engage with readers, and meet our brand ideals. She must not be too young, nor too old, wear too much make-up, be too sexy (but just sexy enough). And she needs to have a ‘healthy’ body shape – we’re not a fashion mag; we want a woman to look like a woman!

On a shoot day, I could be doing anything from obsessing over a model’s uncontrollable waft of hair to fiddling with a bunch of coriander. I might be frantically packing up 30 bits of crockery as a courier looks on, or trying to professionally direct a male fitness model’s form while passing them a horrifically heavy kettlebell for the next set-up – it’s all good fun!

I love photoshoots. There’s something about seeing weeks of planning – including model castings, mood boards, photographer meetings, location searches – all coming together in glorious harmony that just makes me tick. It’s the same when my latest cover arrives in the office for the first time. Just lovely.

Today is an in-house day. I have had three cups of (decaf) coffee, spent two hours researching pictures, sent eight layouts to repro, designed seven pages and made final tweaks to the cover ready for client approval! Think another coffee is in order…

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