art direction

art_direction

i mentioned previously that i take photo after photo of found gloves. as
my daughter grew, she became my spotter. “dad,” she’d say, “there’s a good one.” how did she learn which one was a good one was? i must have articulated the finer points of a run-over glove. having a child has it rewards and one of my favorite memories is of hearing my daughter answer this question: “what does your dad do?” “he’s an art director.” “what does an art director do? “well, he knows when a picture is good or not.” how about that. do i really? i guess that’s as good as any explanation i’ve heard. when i first came to new york and had the opportunity to work as an art director for bergdorf goodman, i attended a new york dinner with models, art directors, photographers—a serious fashion crowd. i was excited. they were all consumed by their work and life, as i was. since i had lived in the city only for a short while, i was as green as green could be. this scene and its myriad levels of sophistication intrigued and intimidated me. i was seated next to a fashionable blonde and, when she asked what i did for a living, i replied that i was a graphic designer. at the time, i was designing an identity for bergdorf’s new men’s store. i asked what she did. “an art director.” “what’s the difference?” i asked naïvely. she looked at me coldly and blankly and said, quite seriously, “the difference is a graphic designer takes a photograph, places it on a page and puts white space all around it. an art director takes that same photo and bleeds it on all four sides.” i laughed; she didn’t. when i saw this cartoon in the new yorker years ago, i cut it out and added it to all the others i have saved over the years. the memory of all this came back to me upon seeing the cartoon. it’s certainly another explanation to consider.
i mentioned previously that i take photo after photo of found gloves. as my daughter grew, she became my spotter. “dad,” she’d say, “there’s a good one.” how did she learn which one was a good one was? i must have articulated the finer points of a run-over glove. having a child has it rewards and one of my favorite memories is of hearing my daughter answer this question: “what does your dad do?” “he’s an art director.” “what does an art director do? “well, he knows when a picture is good or not.” how about that. do i really? i guess that’s as good as any explanation i’ve heard. when i first came to new york and had the opportunity to work as an art director for bergdorf goodman, i attended a new york dinner with models, art directors, photographers—a serious fashion crowd. i was excited. they were all consumed by their work and life, as i was. since i had lived in the city only for a short while, i was as green as green could be. this scene and its myriad levels of sophistication intrigued and intimidated me. i was seated next to a fashionable blonde and, when she asked what i did for a living, i replied that i was a graphic designer. at the time, i was designing an identity for bergdorf’s new men’s store. i asked what she did. “an art director.” “what’s the difference?” i asked naïvely. she looked at me coldly and blankly and said, quite seriously, “the difference is a graphic designer takes a photograph, places it on a page and puts white space all around it. an art director takes that same photo and bleeds it on all four sides.” i laughed; she didn’t. when i saw this cartoon in the new yorker years ago, i cut it out and added it to all the others i have saved over the years. the memory of all this came back to me upon seeing the cartoon. it’s certainly another explanation to consider.


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  1. The illustration is priceless. Thanks for sharing your stories with us.

    Comment by Suhail Amar — 23/12/2009 LINK TO THIS COMMENT


  2. Wonderful story and especially hilarious drawing, too bad we see such witty stuff less and less these days.

    Thanks :)

    Comment by iancu — 23/12/2009 LINK TO THIS COMMENT


  3. Ha! I am tempted to email this to some of my former art directors…

    Enjoyed your story as well. :)

    Comment by John Carl — 05/01/2010 LINK TO THIS COMMENT


  4. i like your stories very much, thanks for sharing. good bye!

    Comment by nando — 20/01/2010 LINK TO THIS COMMENT


  5. good story.
    kids are usually more eloquent when it comes to defining anything. they looks at things with a clarity i can only envy.

    Comment by bea — 15/02/2010 LINK TO THIS COMMENT


  6. Great story. I once taught graphic design. Now that I’m getting a higher degree I find most of the classes being taught by former fine arts majors with the same pomposity as the design director in your story. I’m proud of what i do, but my love of graphic design has never required me to look down on any other aspect of the field.

    Comment by Joseph — 27/09/2011 LINK TO THIS COMMENT


  7. [...] look what i found today in the street. look what i bought at the flea market.’ i once posted a cartoon from the new yorker about art direction. to this day, i still struggle to answer the [...]

    Pingback by AMASSBLOG » what do you do? — 08/03/2012 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

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