Rebecca Bedrossian of Communication Arts
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Rebecca Bedrossian of Communication Arts…In Print and Online

Written by in Profiles

Work-Life Balance: Rebecca Bedrossian with husband Kris and daughters, Olivia swings while Ava watches. Photo by Kimberly Wassenburg Hull.

Being the managing editor of an iconic creative industry magazine is not all champagne and Town Cars, Burberry and Blahnik, seats at the Met and rides from the airport to the W. “Not at all,” laughs Communication Arts’ Rebecca Bedrossian from her office in Menlo Park, CA. “I’m lucky if I get to grab a sandwich at my desk. And my Town Car is a minivan. ”

Okay, so the job is not as glamorous as some might think it is. But it is interesting and busy. We caught up with Rebecca to find out what she thinks about the future of the magazine —and what she likes to do when she comes up for air.

“First things first,” she answers when asked what is the best way to approach a busy magazine editor with story ideas or freelance queries. “Don’t call. Write an email. Send a note, a synopsis or a link. Bike messenger a package. UPS a few samples. But don’t call. It is so hard to keep up with everything else you have to do, it is better to put it in writing and be patient. I hardly have time to return my mother’s or husband’s calls.”

This summer, Rebecca will celebrate her 12th year with CA, her 6th at the managing editor’s desk she took over when Anne Telford stepped aside to pursue a life beyond the magazine. What strikes her most about her time at CA is how changes in the magazine industry have accelerated adaptation at the venerable print pub.

“We announced major changes in the print version and expansion of the web version in early 2008, before the economic meltdown in September of that year,” she says. “And while advertising and circulation have certainly been affected by the downturn, we were already ready to ride out the storm. Print is NOT going away. Changing, yes, but not disappearing.”

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Olivia “helps” the Managing Editor on a sick day away from school.

Rebecca says life at CA has been a “journey,” from the moment the art history major got a job tip from her cousin working on an “editor’s” hair that morning in the cousin’s beauty salon. “I remember running to the nearest Barnes & Noble to take a look at a copy. When I saw it on the rack, I thought, ‘Sixteen dollars! What artist can afford an “arts” magazine that costs sixteen dollars!’”

She would learn later that subscriptions are much cheaper, ad agencies will pay top dollar for anything, and art directors are better paid than most other “artists” with a stack of brushes and a blank canvas. But the true value of CA became clear to her once she began to work there under the wing of Anne Telford.

“CA means so much to so many people,” Rebecca told us. “It is one of those magazines subscribers save, like National Geographic. It is a reference guide, a source of inspiration, an educational resource and a place to celebrate the best creative has to offer today.”

The feeling is mutual. Her easygoing, interested character strikes people who meet Rebecca face to face. “We met for the first time at the Make/Think conference in Memphis,” recalls Cathi Pavy, partner/creative director or BBR Creative in Lafayette, LA. “Initially, I was a bit intimidated about meeting her. However, I quickly felt at ease with her. I expected her to be a high-powered, critical thinker but in reality, she’s really down to earth, engaging and a lot of fun.

During her tenure at CA, she has given birth to two children and begun a weekly email newsletter and feed to complement the website. New content has been added, like Fresh (begun by Anne Telford, carried on by Rebecca) and the wildly popular typography column. One of Rebecca’s favorite tasks as editor at CA is making the phone call to tell someone that their work is going to be featured in the magazine: “It is especially exciting when the person is someone I have championed for some time. When you make the call you get a range of emotions—often speechlessness. Later, once the call has sunk in, they call and share their feelings. Most often they tell us how CA has influenced their career and how honored they are to now be considered for a feature in its pages. It is a reminder of this publication’s 50-year legacy and that it has been a privilege for me to be a part of it.”

Oh. What does Rebecca do with her time off? She spends time with her girls and husband, Kris. She tends her vegetable garden, winter and summer, and tries to get in some recreational reading. She works hard to maintain that “work/life balance” all good working parents strive for. And she does answer the phone. But write to her to be safe.

In Her Own Words: Bedrossian’s Path to Communication Arts

In 1998, I had received my undergraduate and graduate degrees in art history, and thought I was on my way to getting a PhD and teaching. My time was spent comparing a tenth-century Armenian manuscript with earlier Irish books of the seventh-century by way of the monastic movement—the subject of my thesis. Riveting.

The language requirements for a PhD program focusing on medieval manuscripts included Latin, Greek, and, of course, Armenian.  So I hedged my bets, taking a job teaching visual and performing arts at a local junior college. It was an eye opener. I realized I could not make a living wage teaching classes here and there and still live in the Bay Area. I decided to find a “real” job.

One day I  received a call from my cousin Michelle, a hair stylist, who was at that moment cutting the hair of a receptionist who worked at an “art” magazine that was looking for an associate editor. An Art Magazine (note emphasis), she repeated. At her insistence, I went to the salon, met Tiffany (the receptionist) who asked me to send her my resume.  At the time, I had never heard of Communication Arts. I was then reading fine art publications such as Art News and the College Art Association’s Art Bulletin. Anne Telford, then managing editor, setup my interview.

Shortly, I went to Barnes & Noble to buy a copy of Communication Arts. The Photography Annual was on the newsstand—and it cost $16! Needless to say, a bit intimidating for a recent graduate.  I met Anne. They hired me. I was happy to land a job—with benefits—with my art history degrees!

 

  1. 03
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    7:00pm

    Short & sweet, congrats on the article and you admirable career. Would love to catch up.
    MO

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    1:30pm
    Matt Porter said:

    Rebecca Bedrossian champions many people who reach the pages of CA. Most recently, Brian Stauffer in this month’s issue. Don’t call Brian a late bloomer, but he has had a long career before CA put him up. Parish Kohanim was also recognized after a substantial career. Good things come to those who wait!

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    2:27pm

    i still remember the call i was lucky enough to get from Rebecca, i am pretty sure that after i picked up my chin off the floor, i asked her if she was sure they would want to feature my work… reading CA is a joy, and a motivator, so many stories about how others have overcome numerous odds and still pursue what they have a passion for. she is a champion, indeed!

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    8:50pm

    What can I say about Rebecca that the article hasn’t already done. By the time I got one of her infamous calls, I had felt like we had been friends for years. Getting the call fulfills so many dreams. That she understands this, and relishes the experience, says so much about her love for the craft of visual communications.

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    9:51am

    one of the good eggs. w/ cute chicks!

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    9:09pm
    DESIGN ARMY said:

    Chris and Brian nailed it. Nothing like getting a call from Rebecca cause you always know it’s going to be great news. Congrats with a little East Coast Luv. Hope to see you again soon.

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    4:20pm

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