ESPN’s Chin Wang Talks Magazine Design

ESPN’s creative designer explains why every story meeting should have a visual person at the table.

“I like designers who think like an editor.”

That’s one of the creative philosophies that sets Chin Wang apart in the field of magazine design.

Wang is creative director for ESPN The Magazine, which took home a National Magazine Award for General Excellence this February. Caysey Welton of Min caught up with her to get her thoughts on magazine design, and her work at ESPN The Magazine and

“Wang cut her teeth at local newspapers in the 90s, and eventually began working in magazines after she joined the Boston Globe in 2001,” Welton writes. “She came to ESPN in 2012, and worked under design legend and min Hall of Famer, John Korpics. In 2014, she was elevated to the role of creative director of the magazine and, and has since been praised for her cutting edge design—particularly her annual treatment of the magazine’s franchise staple ‘The Body Issue.’”

While Wang says she does appreciate the work they do each year on that issue, she has a very personal love for the Derek Jeter “goodbye” cover in 2014.

“It has lots of white space and is very quiet,” Wang explains. “It’s tough to pick just one though, especially because in the last six months or so, we’ve been experimenting about what a cover is and how it can be a conversation in sports. So instead of thinking about the cover as a nod to what the story is about, we want it to be a piece of art like a poster.”

These amazing covers, like the rest of the content, come about through a commitment to collaboration.

“We aren’t here to just make things look pretty,” she explains. “There are a lot of magazines where you can tell that designers took over. They feel over designed without any connection to the story. We try to stay away from that, and not design for design’s sake.”

“I’m very lucky to collaborate with editors who see us as part of the process,” Wang continues. “They don’t call a story meeting without a visual person there. Every story is a collaboration between edit and design.”

As to what she loves about working in print, Wang is clear: “I love the permanence of print. I subscribe to dozens of magazines and I savor them in a way I can’t on my phone. I really do believe it helps you appreciate the physicality of the product.”