At a magazine, the relationship between the words on the page and the photography, illustration, and typography has ultimate power to get a reader to start reading. Which means that on a magazine staff, the relationship between the word people and the art people is critical. And, because they speak two different languages, often fraught. Knowing that is what has made the past two years feel so charmed in the halls of Seattle Met.

At the beginning of 2011, we suddenly found ourselves without an art director (having lost him to pursue fame and fortune in New York City). André Mora, a freelance designer who’d returned to the Northwest (having already achieved fame and fortune in New York City), agreed to fill in while we rebuilt the art department.

Long story short: He never left. André’s elegant design aesthetic, deep knowledge of typography, and commitment to the city of Seattle would have been enough. But the best part is, as a designer with a BFA in writing, literature, and publishing, he eloquently transcends the word-picture divide. (Plus, he’s really fun to have around.)

But wait, there’s more. For his second in command, André hired Chris Skiles, a Houstonian who came to Seattle by way of Maui, where he’d single-handedly art directed the alternative newspaper, turning out witty, colorful issues every week. Chris too has been a dream colleague, and for over a year he infused the front-of-the-book Mudroom section with a vibrant sense of play and gave lively treatment to top entertainment events, as well as many arresting feature layouts. Sadly, Chris left us in the middle of putting together this issue of Seattle Met. We’ll really miss him and his work—but at least he’ll still be one of us. He’s heading up the design for a new publication inside the company and we can’t wait to see it when it launches next spring.

In the meantime, this year-end issue represents the lovely fruit of many collaborations between designer and editors, from the cover story decked out in the style of classic holiday film posters to the photograph of the many faces of Manny’s Pale Ale founder Manny Chao to the irreverent look back at 2012.