It is the sort of challenge Yamazaki thrives on. She joined our staff in 1976, after 14 years at Time-Life Books, LIFE and Seventeen, and became our art director in 1982. An English major at Showa Women's University in Japan, Sanae worked as a copy clerk at the Japan Times before coming to the U.S. in 1961. Inspired by her newspaperman father and painter mother, she decided on a career in magazine design, seeing it as an ideal combination of journalism and art.
She found her own tastes well suited to the PEOPLE look. "I come from the old school of 'less is more,' " Sanae explains. "I like to see just enough text to capture the essence of the story, running a few pictures very large and using lots of white space. Our pages should be very bold." She feels her Japanese heritage may have shaped her ideas about magazine aesthetics. She points to the Japanese national flag, with its "rising sun," as one of her favorite bold but simple designs.
Divorced with two grown sons, Yamazaki now lives on Manhattan's East Side. She recalls how as a young Japanese girl in love with American movies, "I used to dream about Broadway and Manhattan, very much as young girls in Ohio might think about it." She used to imagine herself sitting in a windowed office high above the city, surrounded by skyscrapers.
Now that her dream has come true, how does she feel about it? "I could be trying to paint a masterpiece," she says, "but I find what I do here every day the most exciting medium. I still feel a little butterfly in my stomach every time I see a new issue of the magazine, and that's what keeps me going in this crazy job."