One of City Weekly's many unsung heroes, Susan Kruithof is our beloved and soon-to-be-departing art director/production manager. Susan is pictured above with her parents, Joyce and the late Harold Thomas. For the past 14 years, Susan's more than 600 covers of City Weekly each have helped tell our stories and served as the first impression of the paper.
What do you take into consideration when you design a cover?
The thing I think about most is our street boxes, and people viewing that cover from afar. The message needs to grab the reader. The image needs to be clear. Many of our cover meetings start with elaborate ideas for covers, but ultimately, they just won't work if the idea isn't singular, if the image is muddied with too many elements.
What are some of the surprising tasks of art director/production manager?
One of the biggest parts of the job is working with the other departments to complete a project from start to finish. There are a lot of moving parts to produce a paper or a magazine. The writers, photographers, sales people and designers are all zeroing in on a deadline, and it is my job to make sure all those pieces come together. It can be like herding cats at times, but ultimately I have to meet that deadline. I often refer to the production department as a shit funnel. And what comes out on the other end needs to be roses.
You are the sweet spot between the advertising and editorial departments. Who comes out the winner when we fight over space in the paper?
Ha ha ha. I run a tight ship. I want a strong ad-to-edit ratio. My ideal is 65 percent ads to 35 percent editorial content. But there is a certain amount of editorial content that just must be in the paper. City Weekly has award-winning writers; we bring something to this community that you cannot find anywhere else. I don't think our readers understand what depths we go to provide them with quality hard-hitting features. It's an expensive proposition, and we are a free publication. Our advertisers support our endeavors and ultimately, their ads get to be surrounded by amazing content and that is worth something to them. And I believe that our readers do want to know about local businesses, and City Weekly provides them with that information. If our content is 65 percent ads, then, of course, our readers are picking up the paper to read the ads as well.
What advice do you have for your replacement?
Deep breaths, Derek, deep breaths. I have been fortunate to work with my assistant production manager, Derek Carlisle, for over six years. He is an amazingly talented person. I am so happy that City Weekly gets Derek as their next art director/production manager. He's already created a number of amazing covers and honestly has a greater skill set than I do. He can do absolutely anything in that department and has done everything. So, my only advice? Enjoy, take risks, push yourself in those times you are not overwhelmed.
So, why on earth are you leaving us?
I am leaving this amazing city and job to move back to my hometown of Bloomington, Ind. Love has come knocking at my door, and I am following my heart. I also get to live near my mom and oldest son, which is a true blessing. I am excited for this next chapter, but, of course, sad to leave a place I have called home for over 14 years. I hope to come back often.
Before coming to Utah, you worked for an alt-weekly newspaper in Bloomington, Ind., for three years. You also graduated with a degree in fine arts from the University of Indiana in 1989. Did your degree prepare you for the work you do?
I had a concentration in graphic design. You have to understand back then, there were no computers to speak of. The very first version of Quark Xpress had just come out, and I never had an opportunity to work on that program. The fundamentals of design were certainly ingrained in me. I often think what a shame it is that those fundamentals are getting lost. It seems to be more about the programs and less about really designing.
Any fond memory you'd like to share?
I have too many. I have found lifelong friends here. City Weekly has been my family. There were very few days that I woke up and did not want to come to work and tons of days I was absolutely giddy to be going to work. We work hard, we party hard, we laugh and sometime cry together. I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for the time I've spent here. And what happens at City Weekly staff parties, stays there. It's like Vegas.