May 3rd, 2019, 07:55 AM

The Mind Behind Your Visuals

By Leona Caanen
Sophia Foerster, the Peacock art director. Image credit: Leona Caanen
Designing over 240 pages of Peacock.

Each semester, your Peacock magazine is created by a different team of editors and photographers. But for the past three semesters, there has been one constant factor: Sophia Foerster. Though Foerster has been the Art Director for so long, the journey to get there wasn't simple. Foerster has worked on the Peacock magazine issues of Spring 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019.

The 21-year-old from Milwaukee, Wisconsin has been at AUP since Fall 2016. Going into university, Foerster wanted to study journalism. Now, six semesters later, Foerster is studying Psychology with a minor in Communications. Yet, the most important thing to know about Foerster is that she describes herself as an artist: "Everything I do, I try to incorporate some kind of art to it, I have always been a painter, I am a musician, I used to do dance and act."

The job of Art Director basically screams creativity, which Foerster excels at. When starting the visual aspect of the Peacock magazine, Foerster works to "come up with an overall visual theme and color schemes that I really want to enhance in the photos, illustrations or graphic design, or specific layout patterns that I want reoccurring in the magazine, so that once you flip through it, it all looks cohesive, that it all goes together." Foerster's creativity has allowed for her, together with her different Editors-in-Chief, to create incredible magazines.

Left: a creative drawing of red lips blowing smoke. Right: the illustrated cover of the Fall 2018 Peacock issue. Image credit: Sophia Foerster.

Foerster's journey with Peacock started off a bit rough. In Spring 2017, she was a participant in the Magazine Practicum class, but dropped out after not feeling adequate to write a good, publish-worthy piece. Foerster is not one to give up easily, and Fall 2017 she was right back in the two-credit class. This time, she expressed her desire to contribute to the visual aspect of the magazine, rather than the written part, and got a chance to do so. Fast forward to Spring 2018: Foerster was the official photography director of the Peacock.

While being photography director and getting to work directly with some of the visuals, the at-the-time Art Director had to drop the magazine and Foerster came to the rescue. Stepping into the role of Art Director mid-semester, which has previously solely been a graduate position, Foerster, together with the editor-in-chief Jacqueline Wegwerth, crafted an 80-page Power magazine. As the 15th edition of Peacock was published, and the next semester of AUP Student Media (ASM) came around, Foerster reapplied for the position of Art Director and got the job.

"I like the challenge of adapting to new people. I think that's my favorite part."

In her second semester as Art Director, Foerster had to work with a new team of writers and editors. Working with a new editor-in-chief, for Foerster, is an exciting challenge: "having someone new each semester is great because they come in with their own personal style and I can then take their ideas and make it my own." Fall 2018, Foerster worked with editor-in-chief Katerina McGrath to create another 80-page magazine about Connections. Comparing the difference between Wegwerth and McGrath's styles, Foerster says that "Jackie’s magazine was very bright colors... Kate’s was very grungy and more dark. And Sage’s to come is a little bit lighter, delicate, and clean." The current editor-in-chief, Sage Theiss Sakata has yet a different style from her predecessors, but Foerster states: "I like the challenge of adapting to new people. I think that is my favorite part."

A double spread from the Fall 2018 Peacock issue on the #MeToo movement. Pages 34 and 35. Image credit: Sophia Foerster.

Foerster's previous editors-in-chief emphasize what a pleasure it is to work with her. Wegwerth explains how crucial Foerster's presence was in creating not just the magazine, but the whole experience: "she did way more than design the book. She helped with everything along the way — the party, the planning, the printing. Everything." Foerster's hardworking nature has allowed her to create three diverse, beautiful magazines. "Working with Sophia was such a blessing. She has so much experience as well as natural talent with graphic design. There's definitely no way we would've been able to put together the magazine if we didn't have her!" states McGrath, Foerster's second editor-in-chief.

As Foerster's last Peacock magazine comes out today, 3 May, 2019, her current editor-in-chief Sage Theiss Sakata tells us what a pleasure it was to work with a creative and talented individual like Foerster: "In the midst of these crazy weeks before the (print) deadline, there were moments when I would just stop and be so admired by Sophia's visual talent, drive and work ethic. Besides art director, Sophia has been my support system and a wonderful friend. Yesterday, we both got to hold the magazine in our hands for the first time. It was such an incredible moment. I am so proud of Sophia. Sophia can do anything she puts her mind to."

Illustration of a vagina for the "Taking Sexual Pleasure Into Our Own Hands" by Sami-Claire; pgs. 54-55 in the Fall 2018 issue. Image credit: Sophia Foerster.

Having had three wonderful teams to work with and having seen Foerster grow as an Art Director and individual, Marc Feustel states that “She came into the position with a natural creative ability and over time she has developed her technical skills and her ability to manage all aspects of the creative process while staying organized, which has made her a real asset to the magazine team.” Foerster is hoping that the upcoming magazine will be the best one yet. Her techniques in Photoshop, InDesign, and Lightroom have only improved over the past few semesters, and Foerster hopes this will shine through in the upcoming issue, of which the launch party will take place in the AMEX.

"There's definitely no way we would've been able to put together the magazine if we didn't have her!"

Creating the magazine every semester does bring its challenges. The biggest one is the constant changes that have to be made when writers or photographers do not deliver promised work and Foerster has to rearrange the visuals and layout of the pages. An aspect that brings a great deal of stress. Yet there is something special about creating a magazine that has kept Foerster coming back. While the final result is a reward in itself, for Foerster it isn't the most rewarding aspect. Rather, "it is more a rewarding process throughout the entire thing. It's not just the end goal, it is learning how to use anything Adobe and Photoshop and Lightroom and learning how to organize my ideas into a new kind of project."

llustration for "Taking Sexual Pleasure Into Our Own Hands" by Sami-Claire; pgs. 52-53 in the Fall 2018 issue. Image credit: Sophia Foerster.

Designing the Peacock magazine has, all three times, been a rewarding challenge. Having sent off this semester's magazine to the printer on Tuesday, April 22, Foerster felt bittersweet, "It made me reflect a lot on my time here, and how much Peacock has allowed me to grow and it made me incredibly grateful for the opportunity and experience." Today, AUP, and especially the ASM board, are very grateful for the experience of working with Foerster and the insight and ideas she has brought to the table.

Next semester, AUP will experience their first Peacock magazine in three semesters without Foerster, as she is off to the Disney College program in Orlando, Florida. Foerster feels bittersweet to leave her job as Art Director but looks forward to take on new experiences.