An Adaptive Work Environment

This week at Greyrock was quite unique. We spent some time as a whole team, chatting about and deciding exactly what we wanted to create for the design of our final layout this year. The interns got a chance to let a little loose, joke around, and really get into the details about how we want our journal to look.

We got to finally make some truly executive decisions this week. We chose the size of our journal, which will look like a novel but slightly larger; our running head, which will have the author’s name and genre; the format for our page numbers, which will be at the bottom and outside of each page; and our fonts, which will include a sans serif for the headers and a serif for the main text. The interns chose an overall aesthetic: We want a layout that will look professional, simple, and minimalistic without looking sterile or uptight, and I think that our decisions will reflect this vision.

Our process was very democratic, even though not everyone agreed on each decision. We had a hard time coming up with the best shape for the magazine, but we made sure to take a vote at each step and let any dissenting voters speak their minds. We eventually came to a unanimous consensus, and I don’t think anyone felt that their voice wasn’t heard or their opinion was considered. Although we have some editors who answer to others, no one was above anyone else during the decision-making process for our layout. I believe that the interns at the Greyrock Review look to one another with respect and trust, and they want to work together in order to create something that we’ll all be proud enough to put our names to at the end of the year.

I had to consider my own impact on our group’s conversation this week. As the managing editor, I know that many of the group members have been deferring to me on issues this semester, including our graduate adviser. However, during this conversation, I don’t believe that my voice was any louder than anyone else’s. This could certainly be my own personal bias speaking. There were a few aspects of the design that I suggested, such as the sans serif font that we will most likely use, which many people agreed with, and I’m not sure if that was because of my own authority or because of the font’s correlation to our envisioned aesthetic.

Our graphic design intern, Haley H., has taken on a lot of responsibility in the past few weeks, especially in the layout department. She created five mock-ups for our meeting so that we could get an idea of what our literary journal could look like — with different sizes, shapes, running heads, fonts, etc. She made me wonder, “Why do we choose or prefer specific fonts over others?” We were using words like “professional,” “feminine,” “fun,” and “serious” to describe fonts, which was quite interesting to me because I never would have given human traits to fonts before this meeting. However, these terms never quite seemed to capture the essence of a particular font. Haley, on the other hand, was able to show us a font that made sense for our vision of the magazine without needing to describe the font in personality-type words. This shows me that our graphic designer can see these things without actually needing to describe them to us in a coherent way.

I was told this week by my thesis adviser to begin asking individuals why or how they do certain things at this internship. I asked Haley how she knows what will look good on the cover and pages of Greyrock. She said that she wasn’t sure, but that she just had a feeling after hearing our “aesthetic” words at the beginning of the meeting. When she had an idea of what everyone wanted collectively, she was able to choose specific fonts and page designs that would go along with our vision for the journal’s layout. I believe that intuition is key with her role, and Haley has an eye for the aesthetic that comes naturally to some and not at all to others (like me). We certainly need someone like Haley who can make those split decisions that can’t be quantified by most, but will look fantastic and professional in our final proof. She’s a great addition to our team!

This week, I realized that we’ve created a new culture in this internship recently. We’ve adapted our old culture of politeness and careful treading into storming, cooperation, coordination, and kinship. Since we have been able to put a name to our collective vision, we have made our own behaviors reflect our group mentality in which everyone’s opinion matters but individual voices are being heard at the same time. We’re now making sacrifices for the good of the group and adapting as time goes on. Greyrock contains a flexible team that is able to adapt over time and change their dynamic, which I have been taught to see as a necessary trait in the publishing industry.


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