Dawn Sinkowski, Photography Director at Martha Stewart


SPD: What year?
Dawn Sinkowski: 

SPD: What were you up to?
I was in New York, living on 21st St & 10th Ave. This was my sophomore year at Parsons. I would've been working three jobs, hanging at Mona's and Max Fish and dragging myself to class on occasion.

SPD: What magazine?


SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
I loved that this publication was wholly unconcerned with depicting sanity.

It was an unbridled celebration of eccentric living. The images and stories did not anesthetize their subject's aesthetics and did not pander to taste. It was decidedly not about decor. Each story was like peeking in the window of a crazy, fascinating character's home. There was commitment on every page. I love the energy in the pages and how it didn't try to appeal to everyone. In a way, I think it would be right at home with the niche journals being published today. I have to mention the physical, printed object of it: die cut pages, abnormal, irregular shapes that would never fit into pockets. Luscious thick issues with scant ads to be found. The whole venture was decadent and completely over the top.

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
DS: Joseph Holtzman
drove the bus, he was the founder, EIC and art director. Contributing editors included Simon Doonan, Todd Oldham, Catherine Opie, Martin Parr, Richard Tuttle and DJ Spooky, to name a few.

SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
Wow. Well, Nest sets a high bar. It feels like part of the philosophy was to work with dynamic, talented people and get out of their way- to give creatives enough space to create. I strive for that when commissioning work.

Lia Clay, Photographer


Lia Clay: I started reading TAR Magazine when I was 17 years old. A person that I had a rather romantic pen pal relationship with used to send me it from New York. As many teenagers finding their way into the spectrum of other artists and photographers, Ryan McGinley was god. Part of Ryan’s initial series “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” was in the first issue. I remember associating with the types of models he used — often with androgynous features. As someone struggling with gender identity, this new found rebellion against conservative body standards that I was taught growing up with in the South was sort of a revelation. In the spring of 2009, Tar released a cover with Kate Moss by Damien Hirst. It was a photograph of Kate with half of her face, revealing the muscles and tendons underneath her skin. It went along with this article that stated something like “Kate Moss is Never Going To Die.” It was a satirical piece on how Kate had an underground laboratory that was keeping her young forever. It was my last few months before I graduated high school, and immortalized the feeling of being young in the time right before I left home for college. It’s been almost a decade since I first started reading Tar, and even though I am looking forward more and more to growing older,  I will forever remember the feeling that magazine gave me as a teenager. 


SPD: What year? 

SPD: What were you up to? 
I was a teenager, wrestling with the ideas of gender, sexuality, and leaving home.

SPD: What magazine?
Tar Magazine


SPD: What was it that so enthralled you? 
There was a resonance of youth that I was drawn to. It really epitomized a lot of the things I was feeling, and gave me an association to something outside of what I grew up with. Growing up, I always felt out of place. I was grasping on to everything I could to help me find a sense of attachment to another world where I could start to understand myself. 

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were? 
LC: Evanly Schindler
+ Maurizio Marchiori

SPD: How does that inform your creative now? 
It was definitely a beginning. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. There’s representations of things I did when I was taking pictures at 17 because it’s where I began to grow artistically, but I think over the past decade, my work has changed so much that maybe it’s best as something to be nostalgic about, rather than inform what I do now. As much as I gravitated towards those images because it was similar to my body type, which ironically was categorized as ‘different’ from growing up in North Carolina, it also glorified an idealized version of youth and representation that is something we are trying to change now. 



Tom O'Quinn, Creative Director at Thrillist


SPD: What year?
Tom O'Quinn: 1986

SPD: What were you up to?
TO: 15 years-old. Living in Red Deer, Alberta, dying my hair black and sneaking into punk clubs with my older sister in Edmonton. Keep in mind the legal drinking age in Alberta is 18, so it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

SPD: What magazine?


SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
TO: At that age, all you care about is defining your identity. SMASH HITS was a UK magazine but we got it in Canada as well. It was so much cooler than any American magazine available to me at the time and was really cutting edge in terms of photography and type. The subject matter was mostly popular British bands with some American stuff thrown in. Looking at it today it seems almost cute, but at the time it was very “insider”. I found my escape from small-town life through this magazine and also through MuchMusic and MusiquePLus, the Canadian equivalent to MTV. Toronto was where it was all happening back then…but I ended up in Vancouver and then Los Angeles before coming to NYC.

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
TO: I have no idea, but it would be so interesting to talk to them. Patrick Nagel did Duran Duran’s Rio cover and had a huge influence on 80s design, so he was probably the first illustrator/designer that made me want to have a creative career. In the late 80s and early 90s, I started reading The Face, which was my second love…so Neville Brody was probably the first magazine designer I can identify who had an impact on me. And Vaughn Oliver of course for music packaging….


SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
TO: I tend to design big with lots of dramatic type and color… and then pull back. There was a period before magazines where I designed corporate annual reports, so I learned refined typography by reading The Elements of Typographic Style and by designing lots of financial charts printed on 100% cotton paper. My first Art Director job was with Out magazine, and that’s when I knew I loved working in pop culture and entertainment more than anything else. Now I am working 100% in the digital space, with a growing focus on video. So it some ways it’s come back full circle for me, using those initial inspirations of music videos to inform what I do now. Not a lot of typesetting beautiful paragraphs of copy anymore, but using type, image and motion to tell stories in different, exciting ways.


Rachel Gogel, Creative Director

Rachel Gogel: I fell in love with GQ Magazine in 2005.

Who would have thought that six years later I would land a job at this iconic publication?

The truth is, I've always been drawn to editorial design, typography and layout. Since I traveled a lot with my family growing up, purchasing magazines at airports for long-distance flights happened often. In high school, designing covers and pages for our annual Yearbook was the next best thing to working in publishing.

Once I moved to the United States from France in 2005 to attend university, I read all kinds of magazines — Wired, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and New York Magazine — but my all time favorite was always GQ for its cool visualizations, bold colors and witty custom letteringAnd you may have guessed by now, but I chose to major in Communication Design.


I aspired to work for a magazine one day and became fascinated by Fred Woodward, who is being honored at this year's SPD Gala. In 2001, Woodward moved from Rolling Stone and became editorial design director of GQ, instantly transforming the publication and injecting his delightful, creative and innovative work into the brand's look and feel. I was lucky to land a few internships in publishing throughout my college years that would hopefully bring me closer to that dream.


When I graduated in 2009, I moved to New York without a job and spent hours in a Borders bookstore (RIP *sad face*) looking at mastheads and writing down designers’ and art directors’ names from my favorite magazines. GQ was my main target but the job market that year was not great and I had to keep my options open. (The best part about this sheet of paper is that I recognize or have met several of these people since, thanks to SPD and my work in the industry.)


Unfortunately though, after reaching out to as many people as I could, I only heard back from a handful. While disappointed, I remained optimistic. I worked at DVF and Travel + Leisure before GQ became a freelance client of mine (I built a site for them in Wordpress!) thanks to old contacts on the marketing team. Suddenly, I felt like I was getting closer to my teenage ambition.


Flash forward to summer of 2011: a former boss of mine from a Condé Nast internship had left GQ and there was suddenly an opening. I put my name in the hat, and soon after was hired as Associate Art Director on the business side. The role came with high expectations for quality and Woodward-like executions. Our clients came to us for what our sales team pitched as editorial-caliber branded content and infographics. My goal was to find a balance and create a complementary aesthetic that put our advertorials on the map without confusing our readers.

Other than Fred Woodward, who left the title last year after sixteen years, I now know that other creatives involved on the editorial side were Anton IoukhnovetsChelsea CardinalDrue WagnerMichael PangilinanRob HewittBenjamin BoursAndre JointeDelgis CanahuateEve Binder and many more. I learned so much and was inspired every day until I left as design director of marketing in 2014 for a new gig at The New York Times

Needless to say, I'll never forget my first crush, GQ Magazine, since it kickstarted my lifelong love of design.

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