In the middle of redesigning The Paris Review (stay tuned!) our new art editor, Charlotte Strick, takes time out to discuss how she got into the design business. (She’s also responsible for the gallery of book jackets you see above.) Read more on FSG’s new blog, Work in Progress.
I’ve wanted to be a fashion designer since the age of three, because my mom had been a fashion designer in England. I grew up with her talking about what London was like after the war, how it was this burst of color after so much gray. Carnaby Street, and Mary Quant . . . I just thought, wow. That’s what I want to do. Of course, that scene had long since passed when I became an adult. But that was my dream, and I grew up drawing, making little fashion magazines. I made a logo for myself. And I grew up with my father pointing out typography to me, because he had been very involved in the Calligrapher’s Workshop that’s now part of the AIGA. I remember at the age of five, him pointing out, “Look at that sign! That’s a terrible letter j!” I got quite snobby about stuff like that. I wanted to go to art school, I wanted to go to RISD. But my family said, “Go to liberal arts school, be a fine arts major, but study all these other subjects. Then you can go to art school if you really want to.” I went sort of frustrated. I did a lot of painting, I took art history classes. All the time I was drawing and trying to teach myself to sew.
I came out and I was working for Elie Tahari. At the time they were just branding Theory, which is huge now. There was a girl a few years older than me, who had gone to design school, and she was given the task of designing the Theory logo. I looked over her shoulder and thought, “What is she doing?” I hadn’t been on a computer much at that point . . .
And here, Strick explains how she got her gig at FSG:
And Parsons had an interesting [postgraduate] program which allowed me to work and go to school. I worked part-time for all these people in fashion. I thought, maybe I’ll work at a fashion magazine and combine my interests with graphic design. But the more that I got into typography and design I thought, I don’t want to use the same three typefaces everyday, in the same column grids.
My dad had been a book publisher. He was one of the first people to bring trade paperbacks to this country. So I ended up in my dad’s field instead of my mom’s. I’d had an internship interview with Rodrigo Corral, who was then in the position that I’m in now. We got along well, I thought FSG was a really cool place, but I had already worked for a few years before going back to school. I really didn’t want an internship. A few weeks went by. I called Rodrigo up. I said, “I was just curious if you filled that internship.” He said, “Oh yeah, we filled it.” I was just about to say thanks and hang up. Then fate grabbed my hand and I asked, “Do you mind if I ask why you didn’t hire me?” He said, “Well, I could tell you didn’t want the job.” He said, “Why don’t you come in and do a freelance job for me.” So I started that, and when he left, Susan was shopping around for a designer. I came on. And I’ve been here ten years.