At work with: Michael Renaud, Pitchfork
An intriguing recent publishing trend has been the number of print magazines being launched by digital companies. One of the best is The Pitchfork Review, published quarterly by the Chicago-based music website Pitchfork.com. We start this week in the company of the man responsible for the look of both print and digital sides of the business, creative director Michael Renaud. As well as his role at Pitchfork, Michael is known for ‘The Show n Tell Show,’ his online interviews with designers.
What can you see from the window?
Typically I’m at the office by now, which sounds like a dream after a long travel day. We converted the garage at the Chicago Pitchfork office for the creative team, where there are three other designers and four developers.
Our group (above) does all of the work in-house for The Pitchfork Review, as well as pitchfork.com, our film site The Dissolve, our festivals in Paris and Chicago, and all of the other ancillary stuff that goes along with it all. We don’t really have windows you can see through, they’re made of those glass blocks since it faces the alley out back. But in the summer time we usually have the garage door open so we can feel like we’re working outside, and it’s kind of a nice way to meet the neighbors.
Are you a morning or evening person?
Work and productivity-wise, definitely morning. As the day goes on, conversations, meetings and last-minute stuff tends to escalate, so I try and get as much done as I can when the day starts. Not that I don’t pull all-nighters. Aside from that, I’d consider myself an evening person.
What was the first magazine you remember enjoying
MAD. Was seriously obsessed with it during my childhood. It probably formulated my sense of humor, love for illustration, comics, and magazines more than anything else.
What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
I like to travel light and recently banned myself from buying magazines at airports because I have a habit of buying like six or seven without thinking and it just weighs things down and I ended up seeded with regret. So I’ve only been exposed to in-flight magazines over the last 36 hours or so, which made me realize that I really do miss SkyMall. But I believe there’s the new issue of Gym Class waiting for me at home, which I’m really excited to sit with.
Do you enjoy switching between digital and print?
For sure. I love the challenges they both bring, and switching it up is really nice. The lion’s share of work and concentration is still on digital, but when we’re close to sending a new issue to print, there’s usually a week or two that’s really heavy on that front. Since we do a lot with festivals, event and promotion design is a big part of our day-to-day too.
What role does The Pitchfork Review play in relation to Pitchfork.com?
We didn’t want to just duplicate or do more of what we do on the web, and wanted to make sure the medium was really being utilized in a useful way. So where we mostly concentrate on new music and up-to-the-minute news on pitchfork.com, The Pitchfork Review is a place for us to publish long-form works that may not be quite right for the site, reflections on canonical artists, glossy photo spreads, comics, and re-worked features from the site that we believe will be relevant for years to come.
We’ve noted many digital businesses moving into print over the past 18 months; is this a passing fad or a broader trend?
I think it depends where they’re coming from. I believe many think of it as a temporary marketing tool while it does happen to be somewhat of a trend. But as someone who believes that print is something that is not actually dead/dying, if the intention comes from and inspired and honest place, in some ways it’s the same as it always was. We think of The Pitchfork Review as a collectible item, and although the model is that of a magazine, in other ways it’s a lot like an edition of books. It’s light on ads, high in quality, and made to go back and look through over time.
What are you least looking forward to this week?
I booked a really dumb route home to Chicago, so not looking forward to that. At all.
What will you be doing after this chat?
Taking a nap!
Interview by Jeremy Leslie.
Michael will be speaking in London at Printout tomorrow, 24 March.