- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
The Bulletin at 60: Graphic designer Patricia Brossel on the challenge of creating appealing magazines
One of the rare Belgian members of the editorial staff, Patricia Brossel was an essential point of stability - proving endlessly patient with anglophone colleagues while coping with the creative demands of an ever-evolving publication.
I joined The Bulletin as a graphic designer in January 1992. Little did I know that the job would turn into a roller coaster ride lasting some 20 years. Despite the constant stress of weekly deadlines, there was great camaraderie and some lasting friendships.
In the beginning, the layout of each page was done with scissors and sellotape, before faxed to the printers. The fax machine reigned over every business. Once, when I was working from home, I accidentally sent 20 magazine pages to all of my father's clients. Fortunately, he forgave me.
Every Tuesday, I spent the day at the Weissenbruch printers in Anderlecht finalising the pages. The entire editorial team was at the end of the telephone line and publisher John Stuyck would make an anxious visit, worried about a possible delay in the magazine's distribution.
With the arrival of young, computer-trained journalists, we began to consider editing the pages in-house. Nevertheless, one Tuesday, we got seriously behind with no editor present. Two staff writers rushed to Anderlecht and we finished the magazine just before midnight on the printer's Macs. Phew, just in time!
This was the beginning of the magazine’s move into the digital age, with editorial staff duly equipped and autonomous in creating and correcting pages. It was a hurdle that we just about surmounted thanks to everyone’s energy and commitment. For a designer, the explosion of the internet made layout even more interesting with the unlimited choice of photos and images available and the possibility of experimenting with them for maximum impact.
Other upheavals followed, including changing computer systems and layout programme, and moving the office to Chaussée de Waterloo and then Groot-Bijgaarden. The numerous redesigns of the magazine's layout by external graphic designers or in-house was always an enriching experience even if it was tricky fitting it in while putting out a magazine each week. But it was a challenge that I loved. There were also many other changes in later years, such as switching to monthly and fortnightly publication as well as taking on custom magazines for clients.
The frequent arrival of collaborators and talents from all over the world was one of the highlights of working at The Bulletin. The office was a stimulating, friendly and often festive place; Saint Patrick's day is now part of my calendar. And I’ve fond memories of my daughter as a child, coming into the ‘office’ to hug and chat with everyone, and... collect all the empty rolls of sticky paper.
I also learned a lot by systematically reading all the articles I had to lay out so I could illustrate them in the best way. Savouring the often juicy texts and discussing them with the sub editors was like putting on a pair of magic glasses to reveal a Belgian reality that was both familiar and foreign.
Patricia Brossel is now happily retired. She divides her time between artistic and horticultural activites; participating in drawing and print workshops and growing her own vegetables.