November 28, 2012

Life After Pratt With Editorial Assistant Kate Gavino

Kate Gavino at Black Balloon Publishing
By Britt Gettys

Kate Gavino, a Pratt Writing Major, Class of 2011, graduated just a few years ago, but she’s already found a niche for herself in the writing world of New York.  She currently works as an editorial assistant for Black Balloon Publishing, a small independent publisher co-founded by former Pratt professor, Leigh Newman.  Gavino regularly blogs for Black Balloon, posting book reviews from the perspective of her “perennially grumpy hedgehog named Clementine,” documenting The A to Z Guide to Spending Your Adolescence on a 90s-Era Band Forum, and even discussing how to celebrate Vonnegut’s birthday with Bond girls.  Her main mission, aside from managing wide eyed interns and correcting grammar on posts before they go live, is to come up with more wacky and entertaining ideas for Black Balloon’s blogging team to blog about, and she does it all with a quirky sense of humor.     

“After I graduated I went through the mandatory two months of unemployment and depression-induced gluttony,” she jokes.  However, upon discovering Black Balloon, she immediately knew the company was everything she was looking for: “small, determined, and extremely creative,” and she emailed them regarding an editorial assistant position.  For Gavino, it was the many internships she held that assisted her in figuring out what type of work she wanted to do after college, as well as the type of company she wanted to work for.  “I interned at Random House for two years. First, at Random House Films, where I read manuscripts and determined whether or not they would make a good screenplay. Then I moved to one of Random House’s biggest imprints, Knopf. I read submissions, built Tumblrs for their publicity team, organized photo layouts, and eventually filled in for one of the managing editorial assistants while she was on vacation.”  Despite enjoying the work she did for Random House and their “amazing office supply closet,” Gavino found herself wanting to work for a smaller company.  “I wanted to work for a company that was small enough for me to be able to work with all aspects of publishing: soliciting, editorial, marketing, publicity, even design.”        

Apart from interning, Gavino’s experience in Pratt’s Writing Program also helped her discover who she was as a writer, and the type of writing she wanted to do professionally.  “Studio workshops definitely made me aware of how much I enjoyed the editorial process,” she says.  “I’ve always liked recommending my favorite things to people, so being able to do that on a writing and reading level was interesting. Critiquing someone’s writing –even if it’s just an endless succession of smiley faces on the margin—was a fun process at Pratt, and it was exciting to learn that I could do that for a living as well.”    

“The great thing about the writing program is that you’re living and breathing fiction all the time. It’s wonderful. Sadly, after graduation, that isn’t always the case. If you’re not interested in immediately pursuing an MFA, you’ll have to get a job to pay your bills – and that doesn’t make you any less of an artist.  I chose publishing because it involved reading and writing, but it also happens to involve administrative work, multiple trips to Fed Ex, and crawling around on your hands and knees looking for the closest electric outlet. Yet, I still enjoy it.”  

While enthusiastic about her day job, Gavino also makes time for her own writing projects.  Since graduation she’s been expanding her senior thesis into a fully fledged novel.  Almost everything else she’s written has been published in online magazines and blogs, a growing trend these days, and her work includes an ongoing graphic novel regarding small town life in Texas, the state she hails from.  “It’s hard to find a job that will let you be creative all the time,” she admits, ”which is why you should appreciate your time at Pratt. Writing isn’t always a feasible day job, so you’ll have to find something that will make you happy and leave you with energy to write at the end of the day."

Click here to find more of Gavino’s work.

Interviewed by Britt Gettys November 15, 2012

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