December 16, 2014

Inside Track into Industry: Publishing

It was a rainy fall evening and there was just a hint of sunlight left outside. Students and alumni were lined up to sign in and register with umbrellas in hand at the Student Union. The room was set up with 11 circular tables and at each table there were two to three employers, authors, art directors, editors and designers from different companies, including Entertainment Weekly and American Photography.
Inside Track to Industry: Publishing began with the strike of a gong. Then came Deborah Yanigisawa’s introduction of Rafael and Martha, who were the organizers of the event. Rafael explained the instructions for the night: “Whenever a question is asked, you ring the bell on the table”. The employers met with students and alumni to discuss career plans, share career stories, and provide information about the company they were there to represent.

A screen projected a live feed of the Twitter hashtag for the night, which was #PrattInsideTrack, and we found many tweets such as:

  • @Raphaelschnee (Sir Schnoopy): “Talking about book covers at table 6! #PrattInsideTrack”
  • @iamssih (Emily Faber): “Love learning about American Illustration at table 7!! #PrattInsideTrack can’t wait to learn about more industries”.

After 30 minutes, the gong was struck again and all the employers shared with the entire group the most interesting questions discussed at each table.

It was exciting to see different publishing companies all in one table with Pratt students. There were a good number of students at Table 4, who spoke with Michael Windsor, the Art Director of Penguin Random House, along with others from Time Magazine and Time Out New York. Table 10 had the chance to meet Kevin Brainard who studied at SVA and is now a designer for book covers, theatre posters and magazines (such as Living and Brides).  He discussed the diversity of his work: “We like to stay diverse and keep it moving… keep it changing”.

The gong was hit once again and Deborah asked the group to share the most interesting question at the table. The answers included:

  • “How we got started doing our jobs” from Table 2
  • “Transferring from a book to an eBook”
  • “Most effective way to get illustration work to an Art Director- if it’s monthly: call, if it’s daily: don’t call.”
  • “Is it normal to jump from job to job?”
  • “How companies are judging books on different scales, such as how it would do financially, etc.”
At Table 6, Ryan Fischer-Harbage (literary agent at The Fischer-Harbage Agency Inc.) and Thad Ziolkowski (author of the novel Wichita) asked students about their classes. This was a table I really enjoyed visiting, as there was a French vibe to it. They discussed the simplicity of writing, using quotes like this one from Blaise Pascal: “If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter”. They joked and conversed about subtractive methods in writing, stating that if you can say what you want in a simple way to do that, because less is more and simple is profound.

Other tables included Nick Nartorelli (Manager of eBook productions at RHPS Group), who discussed eBooks and noted how they are HTML language and how anything that can be done in an eBook can also be done on a website -- like animation, color, and sound. Another table got the chance to speak with Rhonda Schaller (author of Create Your Art Career: Practice Tools, Visualizations, and Self-Assessment Exercises for Empowerment and Success)  and Moses Gates (Urban Planner at AICP) who talked about writing and finding your audience. One tidbit I overheard advice to writers from Moses: “Don’t tell them you’ve written the whole book or ‘I already have the book done’ because companies want to be cooperative with the writing process”.

Table 7 got a chance to speak with Mark Heflin, Director of  American Photography & American Illustration. They talked about the student’s edition competition section of American Photography and American Illustration: “You can pick your best ten, or two pictures”. Check it out, as the deadline is in February - you can register here!

Mark Heflin conversing with student

Someone asked Mark if he started as an illustrator, and his response was that he used to be a tap dancer and a singer. He then described the types of “survivor jobs” he has held. He explained what temporary (temp) agencies are and shared his story of how he started working for the office through one of those agencies and ultimately became director years later. I was surprised to hear that there are just two people that work at his office. It was interesting hearing about his position and what it is like inside American Photography. I will definitely be submitting my work to them, you never know if it could be, I hope you do too.

Our next Inside Track Into Industry: Public Spaces, will take place on Thursday, January 29th. Be sure to follow Pratt Success on Facebook for registration information, which will be provided closer to the event!

Written by: Jazz Seijii Hernandez
Photographs by: Jazz Seijii Hernandez

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