Tag Archives: art director

Soulight On: Dave McClinton

spotlightlogo_DMSoulFul Design is proud
to present the series
Soulight On: a showcase featuring designers of color across different creative fields. My purpose is to shine light on fellow creatives that we don’t see in the mainstream design trades. My goal is for you to be inspired, be informed, be creative.

Designer and artist Dave McClinton launched his one-man design concern in 2004. Technically, though he had been taking on clients since his school days at Texas State University from a small sign shop to an alternative newspaper for tech start-ups and then out on his own. In the 20 years Dave has been working as a graphic designer, he has never lost his love of the work. “I still get excited about every project during the initial discussions,” he says. Early on, he was taught the 2 of 3 principle—fast, cheap, good… pick any two. “My heart is bigger than my wallet as I often help folks out regardless. It’s very hard to walk away from a creative opportunity,” Dave states.

He currently runs his design business while juggling a designer T-shirt line, Drivn Apparel, an advocacy newspaper, TODO Austin, and his own personal artwork. Late nights are a regular occurrence. After the phone stops ringing, emails calm down and those ‘real quick’ requests are over, the night offers peace to actually design something. Dave’s work has been published in Print‘s Regional Design Annual, Typography and Enclosures, the 4th book in the Master Library series, Shapes and Symbols, the 3rd book in the new Master Library series and Logo Lounge Volume 7.

1. How did you first become interested in graphic design?

As a kid, I was always interested in art. I’d scour over posters, magazines, illustrated books, and in particular, album covers. I didn’t know what the job titles of the people creating them were but I knew I wanted to be a part of it. During my senior year of high school, the first three hours of everyday was a class called ‘commercial art’. This is sort of old school, as the profession had just started being referred to as graphic design. This is when I first thought that I could make a living being creative. Continue reading Soulight On: Dave McClinton

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Diversity Works When One Wants It To Work

Today, I read a posting on the statistics of race within the tech industry (http://newsone.com/nation/tjstarr/is-technology-racist). For an industry talked about as being the one area where everyone can make a mark, it clearly shows that this seems to be a fallacy. It did, however, make me reflect on my experiences in the design & publishing industry. There was one man in my experience who truly believed in diversity and put his money and mouth to it. That was George Mavety.

I worked at Mavety Media Group pretty much right out of college and grew there for five years. George Mavety was the owner of this publishing house. Now, MMG was not your mainstream publisher but rather it was an adult publishing house. Yes, that’s right. Porn, erotica, dirty mags, all those things running in your head. Despite all the preconceived notions one might have about working at an adult shop, it was very much the opposite. George Mavety ran his business as what it was—a business. The offices were loft-styled right in the middle of Soho. Entering the lobby, you’d have no clue what Mavety Media Group was all about. Even walking down the halls after being buzzed in, you’d still have no clue. It looked very much like most magazine publishers until you hit the art, editorial and circulation departments. Here’s where you actually saw the magazines and instantly knew this wasn’t People magazine.

What also made it starkly different from mainstream publishers was the fact that the employees were a virtual rainbow coalition. Black, White, Latino, Asian, Male, Female, Straight, Gay, Old, Young and so on. George Mavety wasn’t concerned about staffing his business with people who looked like him but rather with people who worked like him. This man was serious about what he did and wanted folks under his roof with that same mentality. He supported us all, he was generous, he was concerned about our problems and was a remarkable human being. As normal, some folks don’t have the fondness for George Mavety as I do but that’s what makes our experiences all so unique. With me, George Mavety was the first employer I had who truly lived by these words: all men (and women) are equal. 

I started work there as an Assistant Art Director and was promoted to Art Director of four monthly titles two years later when my AD stepped down. He recommended me for the position but the final say was George’s. Naturally, I was nervous as all hell since here I am at 24 years old being considered to run four of his best-selling magazines. That all disappeared once I entered his office. He had this jovial, light-hearted nature that just settled you. We talked about the responsibility of the job, what my thoughts on it were, where I see taking the magazines and so on. Without missing a heartbeat, he shook my hand and told me I’ll do a fine job. Just like that I was now the Art Director. It blew my mind. He had complete faith in what I could do for his business. That bolstered my whole spirit and I dove into my new position with much enthusiasm and drive.

I stayed at Mavety Media for five years at which time I felt I couldn’t do much more with the titles. When it came time to tell George that I was moving on, I was unsure how he would respond. The move wasn’t because I was unhappy or unsatisfied with the company but rather I just hit my creative end. In true Mavety form, he agreed that it was time for me to expand my creative career and that he appreciated all that I did with his magazines. He told me that he knew that I’d be doing great things in design from the first time I worked at the company. He was nothing but supportive extending his help even after leaving Mavety Media. The recommendation letter he graciously gave me just humbled me. His kind, supportive and encouraging words really helped make my first true work experience so incredibly wonderful.

George Mavety passed in 2000. His funeral was packed with so many people and just like his beliefs, it was filled with this wonderful mosaic of folks that he touched.

For diversity to truly work in society, the people who are in control must want to believe in the benefits of diversity and put that faith into actual action otherwise the status quo will remain the same—even with the token representation some industries do to deflect warranted criticisms. Rest in peace, George.

Design Inspirations: Leroy Winbush

Leroy Winbush broke ground in the 1940s as “the award-winning black man” who designed the window displays at the ­American National Bank & Trust in Chicago. Prior to that, only two years out of high school, he joined Goldblatt’s Department Store as designer of displays and eventually became art director—the only black employee in the entire company. His contemporaries read like a who’s who in the creative world: Duke Ellington, Walt Disney and Frank Lloyd Wright. He talks of their collaborations as though they were barbershop chums. Winbush Design still maintains offices in downtown Chicago, complete with numerous awards and photographs highlighting his accomplishments. His recent projects include special graphics projects for NBC, holiday decorations for Chicago O’Hare International, Midway and Miegs airports, a modular traveling exhibit for the Bally Corp. and, of course, exhibits for the DuSable. He passed away in 2007.

In 2008, Leroy Winbush was awarded an AIGA Medal. The medal of AIGA—the most distinguished in the field—is awarded to individuals in recognition of their exceptional achievements, services or other contributions to the field of design and visual communication. The contribution may be in the practice of design, teaching, writing or leadership of the profession. The awards may honor designers posthumously. The first designer of color awarded an AIGA Medal was Georg Olden in 2007 thanks in part to the AIGA Diversity Task Force, which I was the first Chairperson in 2006.

— Complied from Victor Margolin presentation on “African-American Designers: The Chicago Experience Then and Now” at Looking Closer: AIGA Conference on History and Criticism February 2001; TheHistoryMakers.com

Design Inspirations: Richard Baker

During the ’90s, US magazine was one of the many magazine titles that inspired me as a young art director. US magazine is not the same title that US Weekly is currently. Today it exists as just another gossip rag. No real design, no real photography—just an assembly line of pages. US magazine during the 1990s was a well designed, informative and creative publishing force. The innovative photography and clever typographic pages each month filled me with immense joy and energy that motivated me to strive to its creative level. As each new issue hit the newsstands, I felt so fortunate to be part of the publishing game because of titles like US. I felt even greater pride when I learned that its Art Director was Richard Baker, who happened to be African-American.

Richard Baker art directed US with such innovation, energy and boundless imagination. The way he played with type in his feature spreads worked so harmoniously with the photography and illustration that created such emotional connections between its readers and subjects. His work made the readers understand the personalities of the celebrities featured. He approaches seemed simple in construction but were actually complex in its smart use of connecting the heart of the story with its readers. His work was a staple in the Society of Publication Designers’ annuals. Richard Baker’s work really pushed me in my role as Art Director while working on a business title owned by Essence Communications. With his fantastic magazine work, adding the fact that Richard Baker happened to be African-American really lifted my spirit as I’d come across so few magazine designers that look like me. Eventually, he moved on from US magazine and went to Premiere, another one of my favorite titles during the ‘90s.

Richard Baker brought that same creative innovation to Premiere and really elevated the title to new heights where I still saw his pages in the SPD annuals. I lost track of him after he moved on from Premiere but I remember he was at LIFE magazine the last time they resurrected the iconic title. Today, I don’t know where he has landed but wherever it is I know he is on to a new level of creative innovation. Personally, I would just like to let him know how much his work has inspired me over my career and that he really helped me discover my passion for magazine design.

Thank you, Richard Baker.