This Is Who We Are:Joseph Caserto

This Is Who We Are:

Joseph Caserto

If you attended last Friday's Pub Crawl or any of our last several Pub Crawl events, then today's Student Committee Profile will likely be a familiar face...

Meet Joseph Caserto
In addition to being a tour leader at our Pub Crawls, Joe is actually the mastermind behind these awesome events. He's the one who gets all the great publications to participate and then makes the event run smoothly, not to mention helping out with all our other initiatives.

Current job and/or projects you're working on:
• Independent Art Director & Designer
• Adjunct Instructor at New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies
• Consultant
I'm excited to be doing a freelance project with Fortune in October, producing pages for their iPad edition. I'll also be teaching two courses at NYU for the fall term: InDesign I: Foundations, and InDesign II: Essentials, as well as working on a new tutorial for Mediabistro On Demand.

What school did you go to, and what did you study?
I went to Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, NY, where I majored in Graphic Design and earned a BFA, with honors, in Communication Design. It took me a few tries before I settled on that major, though. First, it was Architecture for three semesters, and then Illustration for one semester. Not to brag, but I wasn't very good at either. I fortunately realized that Graphic Design was what I wanted to do, because I loved it.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a doctor when I was very little, then I remember wanting to be a lawyer for a short time, and finally decided to be an architect. I picked all three of these for the same wrong reason: I thought I could make a lot of money, which many doctors and lawyers do, and most architects don't. But I was always artistic, and deep down, I don't think I ever thought that I wouldn't be a visual artist of some sort. I also knew I wanted more of a mainstream career, rather than one as a fine artist.

How'd you get into magazine design?
My very first job was at an ad agency, shooting photostats and doing paste-up mechanicals. (Google those terms: that's how we did things before the Mac.) I interned there, and then went on staff after I graduated, at which point, I was almost instantly miserable. A freelancer I worked with knew someone at Parent's Magazine and found out that they had an opening. I ended up contacting them and getting an interview. They were transitioning from mechanicals to a Mac-based system. I took one of the very first Mac courses offered at Pratt and had some professional experience from the agency, and although it took a long time, they hired me to do production.

What made you get involved with the SPD Student Committee?
I became an SPD member shortly after I started working in magazines and had been volunteering on and off to help out at events. I was meeting a lot of great people and wanted to become more involved. Because I teach, the Student Committee seemed like the perfect choice.

Name a current favorite font, photographer or illustrator (or all 3!)
• Well, as for fonts, according to the Pentagram "What Type Are You? Quiz", I'm Perpetua Titling Light. Aside from that, although I tend to go for the classic workhorses like Garamond and Franklin Gothic, I have to say that I'm one of those people who think that the simplicity of Helvetica is a beautiful thing. But I also think it looks AWFUL when it falls into the wrong hands and is misused. And, for a bit of trivia, F. W. Goudy owned a house in the town where I grew up!
• I've worked with so many talented illustrators that I have too many favorites to name, but I will say that whenever I see work by Edel Rodriguez and Christoph Niemann, it almost always delivers the WOW! Factor.
• I've also worked with many talented photographers, but don't really have a favorite. I lean more toward a favorite style and am drawn to clean, graphic images that capture a moment and tell a story.

What should students do now while in college to help prepare them for an editorial design career?
That's a great question for me to answer because there was never a formal editorial design course offered at Pratt when I was there. Certainly you need to know typography.

You also need to know how to recognize a good image, and anyone who took my design courses at The City College of New York knows how to start learning that: one of my often repeated sayings is that the most important question a designer can ask is, "Why?" So, if you see a photo you like--or dislike, even--start asking yourself, "Why?" Is it the color? Composition? Does it tell the story well? Etc. You'll start building your skills and will be able to apply them when you need to solve a problem.
Another big thing: learn how to read and understand a story. Good publication designers are visual journalists. I was always a big reader as a kid and feel like that played a big part in my getting into magazines.

Have anything else you'd like to share?
Some final thoughts:
• You'll never stop learning, and your portfolio will never be finished.
• In every situation, whether it's one you want to be in or not, you can find opportunities if you're open to them.
• Whatever you choose as your career, do it because you love it.

Find more of Joe online:
Blog: Joe's Place
Find him on Facebook and LinkedIn
Follow him on Twitter: @josephcaserto

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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 previous ones here.
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