This Is Who We Are:John Walker

This Is Who We Are:

John Walker

Whether he's leading a seminar for our SPD-U event or hosting a portfolio review or working behind-the-scenes on the Pub Crawls, we're lucky to have John Walker's experience (TV Guide! Entertainment Weekly! The New York Times Magazine!) and enthusiasm as he helps with all of our events and efforts. Read on for his great advice and interesting background...

Meet John Walker

Current job:
Currently Consulting Art Director, Digital Editions at Popular Mechanics' iPad edition (which has been really fun and really challenging!)

What school did you go to, and what did you study?
University of California, Santa Cruz, known affectionately within the UC system as Uncle Charlie's Summer Camp (it was a rather bucolic campus, known for a certain herbal influence, I suppose. Not that I inhaled!). I have a degree in Comparative Literature.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I thought it would be fun to be a film director, and I was a real photography buff. (MANY photos of trees silhouetted against dusky clouds... ) I guess I really wanted to be a writer. But when I saw what junior editors did at my first publishing gig, I was much more interested in what junior art people did! (I sadly was an administrative assistant for the ad dept. But I ended up a junior art person--keep the faith!)

How'd you get into magazine design?
I had been laid off from a retail job and thus eligible for unemployment. I sent off my resume to every publisher in San Francisco with a letter basically saying, "You have no reason to hire me other than that I have the gumption to send my resume to you and promise to work hard." Hired as an administrative assistant in the ad dept, I used to bug the art dept with Pagemaker questions (ah, Pagemaker!) until eventually they just had to give me a job!

What made you get involved with the SPD Student Committee?
I always loved looking at the student competition winners in the SPD Annuals--I recall making several calls at Entertainment Weekly trying to interest winners in jobs--and it was natural to want to meet some of them. Plus, through every step of my career I have been taught by others, so I really value passing that along.

Name a current favorite font, photographer or illustrator (or all 3!)
• Font: Though all the rage now, I really fell for Porchez Typofonderie's Ambroise when it came out. It's a loopier Didot, full of all the eccentricities I love in a font.

• Illustrator: Kirsten Ulve. My colleagues at EW commissioned my portrait (as seen above) when I left (part of a longstanding tradition). I love my crazy blue eyes and oversized chin. (After all the caricatures I commissioned, it was time to take my own medicine.) And she does great personal work, too.

• Photographer: I really enjoyed the New Photography 2010 show at MoMA, especially Alex Prager's work--it's like Cindy Sherman and Pedro Alomodovar raised her, but the aesthetic is totally her own.

What should students do now while in college to help prepare them for an editorial design career?
I always say to people--students and seasoned pros alike--to find time to make work on their own that can help lead them to where they want to go next. Think of what you want to be paid to do, and then do it at home first. (Practice is always helpful!) Once the screen dimensions were announced, I worked on fake iPad app designs at home--even before the thing came out.

Have anything else you'd like to share? always inspires me (note the 4 "F"s, 3 gets you a cheesy photo agency!) And check out every book on Alexey Brodovitch. Genius.

Find more of John online:

(Illustration by Kirsten Ulve)

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As one of SPD's many committees, the Student Outreach Committee is made up of a bunch of hard-working, fun professionals who are all about helping YOU. We thought it might be interesting to give you a little insight into who "we" are. Look for more profiles of our Student Committee members in the coming weeks and check out previously featured members:
• Joseph Caserto
         • Trevett McCandliss          • Jason Sfetko          • Kim Sall           • Nancy Stamatopolous
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