Seven Questions for InStyle Creative Director Rina Stone, for Whom ‘Clear Is the New Clever’

Rina Stone loves a design challenge. Before taking the creative helm of InStyle in 2007, the Boston University grad held a series of positions that had redesigns as their initial focus, from helping GQ freshen up its look and reimagining US Magazine as a weekly to defining the visual identity of Tina Brown‘s smart yet short-lived Talk and finally, updating People. “That was as much a design challenge as it was reimagining a workflow that could allow for more breaking news without sacrificing quality in design and photography,” says Stone, for whom InStyle was a natural next step. “My previous experience had been celebrity-focused, but fashion is truly where my heart is,” she explains. “It was a perfect place to blend the two.” Read on as Stone offers a peek into life at the glam monthly, outlines a design dream project, and shares what it was like working with a couture-clad Miss Piggy for this month’s issue.

1. The look of InStyle has evolved but maintained a clean and bold yet glamorous aesthetic that has spawned many imitators. How would you describe the visual identity of the magazine at this point in time?
InStyle is playful, luxurious and clear. We deliver content with ease and authority. The reader should feel inspired to try something new after reading an issue.

2. What do you consider your greatest challenge as creative director of InStyle?
With a circulation as large as ours, it’s important to be able to create a widely appealing look that is inspiring to many women and a mix of ages, backgrounds, and styles. It’s also crucial to deliver at least one WOW in every issue.

3. What is your greatest graphic design/publication design pet peeve?
Snapping to the grid.

4. Was was your best or most memorable design-related encounter?
Shooting Miss Piggy. A definite highlight. What a diva! She refused to remove her pearl necklace and who knew she always must wear gloves? Raiding her glove wardrobe was a blast.

5. Your proudest design moment?
Getting the first bound edition after any redesign is exhilarating and anxiety ridden. You immediately start marking up what’s not working. I think I’ve felt proudest looking at any of those issues a year after they’ve been published. That’s when you have enough distance to feel good.

6. What’s the best design/creative advice you’ve received?
Clear is the new clever. (Worst advice: make it a point larger.)

7. You have just received $100,000 that must be used for a single dream project. How would you spend it?
I would redesign the Dick and Jane early reader series using a set of modern illustrators to try to get kids excited about reading. Or actually design and produce fashion flash cards: A is for Armani, B is for Balmain, C is for Chanel