Guest Post: ML’s art director shares her essentials

Today’s guest contributor is hardly a guest! Our very own art director Loneta Showell shares the items and thoughts she gathered for her recent “tools of the trade” guest blog post at Flotsam & Jetsam.

As of two weeks ago, I have been the art director at Mountain Living magazine for 18 years. This is my first job out of college and all these years later I still believe I hit the lottery the day they hired me. It has been a good fit with lots of amazing experiences and great memories. These are the “tools of the trade” that I’ve carried with me along the way.

Since my career started nearly two decades ago, the tools have changed over the years. When I started, these were some of the essentials of making a magazine. Most of our images were shot using 4 x 5 film. I would get multiple exposures of each shot, then spend hours hunched over my lightbox editing the film, picking the best shots and sizing them, and then have them scanned offsite on a drum scanner. Only then did they become digital files that I could use to create a layout. A very long road to get to where we start these days.


I still edit a large quantity of images for each issue, but now we work solely in digital so most of my days are spent behind my computer. In addition to art direction, one of my other passions is carsâfast, red, European sports models, in particularâand my mother bought this mouse for me as a birthday present years ago. It still brings a smile to my face when I walk into the office every morning, and it makes the designing go faster⦠baaadum dum.


Photo shoots are what get me out of the office. This is my styling kit, equipped with items to solve almost any problem that could arise on location, whether it be a house or studio shoot. There’s glass cleaner if I need to be the maid, clamps in case the drapes just wonât stay put, even small paintbrushes to erase any dust on a perfectly placed teapot. There are so many other possible problemsâand so many other MacGyver solutions that all live happily in the toolbox handed down to me from my grandfather.


The concepts for many of my favorite studio photo shoots begin in colored pencil. I can sit around for days with the directive to create a shopping page about summer fabrics. My colleagues know when the real inspiration has struck only when they hear the clinking of my well-worn colored pencils. A lot of times I will sketch multiple ideas, but I am most energized when I’m able to make one of them really come to life in the studio. For this shoot, I rifled through thousands of fabrics to find the colors and patterns that would work best. ML contributing photographer Martin Crabb and I strung up sisal rope as a clothesline and I cut a peony from my garden and a branch off my apple tree to create the rustic, oversized clothespins. One shopping page featuring summer fabrics delivered.

Categories: Interior Designers