From the SPD Archives: Rolling Stone Staff at SPD Gala 30, 1995

From the SPD Archives: Rolling Stone Staff at SPD Gala 30, 1995 SPD50k.jpg1995 was a great year for Rolling Stone and its staff at the 30th SPD Awards Gala. They dominated the awards like few magazines have done before or since, winning 6 gold medals out of 17 awarded, including a gold medal in a new category, Best in Show. And Rolling Stone's medals were won in every major category: design, photography, and illustration.

This was one of many golden eras of design at Rolling Stone, and that was reflected in the talents of their small but very potent staff. Pictured clockwise from top left are: Denise Sfraga, associate photography editor; Fiona McDonagh, photography staff; Geraldine Hessler, assistant art director; Jodi Peckman, photography director; Sid Holt, managing editor; Lee Bearson, assistant art director; Fred Woodward, art director; Janice Woodward (Fred's wife); unidentified staffer; Gail Anderson, deputy art director. [Staff titles taken from a Rolling Stone masthead circa June 1995. If you can ID the staff member in front, please contact SPD!].

The co-chairs of SPD Gala 30 were Scott Yardley, art director of Good Housekeeping, and Maya Kaimal MacMillan, photo director of Good Housekeeping.

(Photograph by Kevin Mazur)

This Rolling Stone gang was a genius cluster of talent: Denise Sfraga went on to be photo editor at numerous of magazines, and is current director of photography at This Old House. Fiona McDonagh became director of photography at Entertainment Weekly. Geraldine Hessler was the longtime design director of Entertainment Weekly and Glamour. Jodi Peckman is currently the creative director at Rolling Stone. Sid Holt is the executive director of the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). Fred Woodward is design director at GQ. Gail Anderson has been busy writing books, teaching, designing posters, and creating all kinds of visual magic.

Longtime Rolling Stone deputy art director Gail Anderson has given us some wonderful memories of the evening and the photograph.

Gail Anderson:
To a young designer, the SPD Gala was the equivalent of the prom. We brought our party clothes to work and transformed ourselves in about a half an hour, and then scrambled to get cabs to the NY Public Library. I remember the various cocktail hours, and going up the steps to the main hall while precariously balancing on new high heels. Of course, by the end of the cocktail hour, we all had a few drinks in us, too, so perhaps that's the real reason why the steps presented a slight challenge. As for this particular 1993 Gala, it's all a blur other than that it was nice to have our editor, Sid Holt, with us. We were living large then, and were really excited about the work we were creating with Fred Woodward.

In retrospect, indeed it was an amazing time for Rolling Stone, and for our department as well. It was such a small staff, and we cranked out so much work over those long nights at the office. I was at Rolling Stone for over 14 years, from 25 to just under 40, so it was my entire youth. I didn't know any other way of working other than to stay late to get the magazine out. As for the people, it was a great group, and the creative energy that Fred had was contagious, affecting all departments, and not just the designers. He was a real lightning rod.

Looking at that picture, most of the group looks pretty much the same to this day. Only Fred and I have white hair--no one else! And people's lives have really blossomed and changed; great jobs, kids, etc. I can't believe it's been 20 years.

My career has taken some unexpected twists and turns since 1993. After Rolling Stone, I took a job at SpotCo as creative director of design, and created artwork for Broadway shows for about eight years. That was a shock to the system after the more predictable magazine cycle. I've been teaching at SVA since the early 1990s, and continue to this day, along with writing about design, which has always been a dream of mine. I've published eight books with Steven Heller, and we're at work on our ninth right now. I have a book coming out in the fall of 2015 that's about hand-drawn packaging.It's my first solo effort for Princeton Architectural Press, so that's pretty exciting. And I work with a good friend from my editorial days, Joe Newton, designing everything from magazine logos for Bonnier to an outdoor installation for a college in Pennsylvania. It's been an interesting ride, and not one I would have predicted for myself post-RS.

The early 1990s were some of the best years of my tenure at Rolling Stone, as I recall. We were easing into doing everything electronically, and that was an interesting challenge. The only problem was that there were so few of us to actually do the work. I remember being the only one in the department who'd ever touched a Mac (at The Boston Globe), so I was sent for training along with our production manager, Susan Cole. I walked our editor and publisher Jann Wenner through a Random Notes page that looked like hell, but he was on board for buying some giant Macs.

Visit Gail Anderson's website to see an amazing collection of graphic design, and for more information on her current projects.

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