Interview with Siegrid Demyttenaere,
creative director, co-editor and co-owner
of DAMN° Magazine
Siegrid Demyttenaere is the creative director, co-editor and co-owner of DAMN° magazine – an independent publication with open-minded views on the interchangeable worlds of design, architecture and art. During my design studies I happened to investigate this extraordinary magazine from an editorial and typographical point of view as part of a student project. I reached out to Siegrid in order to get some insights about the magazine’s background and the everyday life of an art director. Below is an interview I did with her.
How long are you in the design business?
I started DAMN° magazine with my colleague Walter Bettens about 10 years ago. At the beginning it was only sold in 3 countries and bit by bit we became a bit stronger and get distributed more internationally (today we are in about 23 countries, running 30.000 copies).
Next to DAMN° I run another office on visual communication since 15 years (with clients mainly in the design sector).
How did you come up with DAMN°?
We had so many material and things we wanted to share with other people, it all started from a passion, not a business plan! The idea was to create some kind of a community of people who share the same interests, readers get inspired by the magazine and we get also inspired by our readers and their connections… So at that time a magazine seemed like a good solution to be able to publish the content we like to share with others.
The name of the magazine is really extraordinary. What is the story behind it?
First of all we wanted a name that had a bit of a nonsense feel to it, a bit rough, wild at heart, good content, rock’n’roll, edgy, there is more to it… Something that fits the spirit of who we are and what we wanted to tell the world.
Then we had the words:
- Art, Architecture
and that’s it: DAMN°
Every cover of the magazine is an artwork itself. On which principles is the cover design based on?
It has to be a ‘content’ cover that is eye-catching, not just a nice picture, but a DAMN° good image and recent or especially made by an artist or designer for DAMN°
Have there been any difficulties on the way to the position of an art director and how did you overcome them?
Well, this is a bit difficult to answer, since I am also the owner together with Walter. We decide everything by ourselves, DAMnation is small company, not a big publishing house, so we have everything in our own hands and this way it is easy to be focused on ‘our’ DAMN° quality
How does the everyday life of an art director look like?
Haha, I hope I won’t scare you, but it is a real nice but quite heavy job! In full production of the magazine I need to work like 14days non-stop more the 10hrs a day to get everything organized and ready for print. The other days it is more relaxed and ‘normal’ and very exciting to keep yourself up with everything that is going on in the world (everything is not possible and can be frustrating from time to time), but it is a very full life full of good people and wonderful projects (well, the ones that open my eyes of course).
How do you manage a balance between career and family issues?
I worked really a lot since I came from the art school years ago… didn’t really think of kids. But getting older… the biological clock… just had a baby girl very recently (2yrs old) which is the most wonderful thing! Very happy I still did it! And yes it is combinable with a heavy job, but I guess you need a good man in a good relationship, so you can count on each other.
I work late every day, but the baby is used to it, she plays around while I work on my computer in the evening at home (after the office hours).
Which values are important in this business in order to have success?
I think, integrity for your work.
Get inspired by… a lot.
Open up to other views.
Appreciate other’s work.
”We love to meet new people and listen to their stories, they put us again in contact with other friends and colleagues and so we get to hear new stories again, it is an endless chain of inspiration, people, people, people!Siegrid DemyttenaereCreative Director DAMN° Magazine
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Most inspiration comes from travelling and meeting people. While travelling we see a lot of exhibitions, small and big (on: art / design / architecture / photography… everything), so we get to know quite some designers and artists who inspire us.
We love to meet new people and listen to their stories, they put us again in contact with other friends and colleagues and so we get to hear new stories again, it is an endless chain of inspiration, people, people, people! Networking is one of the most important things we need to do for the magazine, as well for content sales or management.
The hardest thing (or it can also be the easiest thing) is to do the right selection of content, it needs to be a DAMN° selection, that is a bit more difficult to explain, it is a bit a ‘from the belly’ feeling. We offer a certain selection of content stories that fit into the ‘DAMN°’ spirit – which is not very easy to explain but you can see it very well what we mean when you read our magazine (and compare it to others).
What is your suggestion for young designers?
Travel a lot.
Talk to people.
Don’t be scared.
Don’t focus on money but on good work.
Be passionate about your work and others.
DAMN°’s starting point is where most magazines stop. In making meaningful connections rather than dictating tastes, its approach to storytelling brings editorial content beyond hype or conventional academic debate. Unafraid to link the personal and the political, the economic and the emotional, the stylistic and the social, the magazine is ultimately about discoveries that aim to provoke a reaction.
DAMN° Magazine, Siegrid Demyttenaere