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 lettering. And 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 Ioukhnovets, Chelsea Cardinal, Drue Wagner, Michael Pangilinan, Rob Hewitt, Benjamin Bours, Andre Jointe, Delgis Canahuate, Eve 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.