Amy Sly // PSU GRAD – 2005

Posted on Oct 21st, 2008 by Command Save

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Thanks to Amy Sly for sharing some of her work with us! Check out more at the end!

What is your position/title, group and place of work? 
How long have you been working there?
My regular 9-7 is working as a Designer for Clarkson Potter, the cookbook
imprint at Random House. I was hired in September 2005, a little over a
month after moving from Portland to New York.

I also serve as Art Director for Slice Magazine, a Brooklyn-based printed
literary magazine, which was founded in early 2007.

How did you find your current design position?
My first position at Random House was as Art Assistant in the DIY/Craft
book imprint, which I read about on mediabistro.com. I was promoted to
Junior Designer within that department, then moved to a Designer position
with the cookbook imprint.

Slice Magazine was started by two women I met through Random House. They
told me they were considering starting a print magazine dedicated to giving
new/emerging authors a platform to be published and asked me to come on
board during its initial stages.


What projects are you working on currently?
At Random House I am working on about twelve books in various stages of
development. I'm designing concepts for the Summer and Fall '09 list,
finishing dummying/designing others, and checking proofs for the rest. Most
of the books I work on now are high end cookbooks, but some are DIY/Craft or
giftables.

At Slice we are in the planning and scheduling stage for Issue 4, which will
be out in the early spring. Soon the Editors will give me the
articles/stories, and I will need to get photography or illustrations to go
along with them, and then either design the pages or give them to our
designer. Issue 3 just hit the magazine racks and we're having lots of
author events throughout the city.

What do you like best about your position or projects?
I really enjoy making things that I can hold in my hands and share with
people. Most of what I work on gets turned into tangible products that go
out in the world. Hopefully they will stay around as objects of value and
not just get tossed. It's so rewarding to walk into a shop or someone's home
and see something I've designed on their bookshelf or being used. Having
happy authors is a big plus, too.*

In what ways (faculty, program, projects, classes, etc) was PSU-GD
successful in preparing you for being a professional designer?
I came to PSU only knowing the basics of Photoshop and left with a solid
knowledge of all the programs required of me in my job. There was some
specific knowledge about bookmaking and design that I had to learn on the
job, but for the most part, I was prepared with the technical knowledge.

I also appreciated that the course load was customizable. I knew pretty
early on that I wanted to focus on print design and was able to tailor my
courses accordingly.

What suggestions to have for PSU-GD to improve upon or
information/content that you should have had in school but did not get?
A class I could have benefited from would have taught how to pitch or sell
my designs and ideas, or to stand up for them when challenged. It's great if
you can make beautiful things, but it's also important to be able to sell
them to the people calling the shots. It could also be useful to have a
course that required students to commission an
artist/photographer/illustrator for a project. Collaborating with others and
bringing out their best work to meet your needs is a great skill to have.

What recommendations do you have for any current students and/or students
graduating?
I would suggest doing as many internships or freelance projects during
school as possible. I worked at The Daily Vanguard as Photo Editor and
Production Manager throughout school, which I think helped me in the eyes of
potential employers. There is a bit of a stigma attached to being "just out
of school" and although a solid portfolio is important; I got the sense that
they also liked to see that I could be a reliable employee with references.*

Any other thoughts about being a designer that you would like to share
(things you wish you had known or just any thing of interest to you?
Try and be realistic when budgeting your time and taking on new projects.
Being optimistic is awesome, but having enough time to do something well and
delivering on deadline is great too. As soon as possible, create a system
for organizing and backing up your work and updating your portfolio. If the
perfect job comes along, you want to be ready with current samples of why
you'd be perfect for that job. Oh, and be nice. If someone does something or
says something nice about you, say thank you. If you like something someone
did, tell them about it. People remember that, and it makes everyone
happier.

Would you share a link to a site or a book or ? that you frequent for
inspiration?
Oh my, there's so much good stuff out there! My tastes are kind of all over
the place, so I keep track of images that inspire me or blogs that are great
via a few websites: Google Reader for blogs, del.icio.us for bookmarks, and
www.tumblr.com to keep up on what my friends are looking at and share with
them. I like the photography aesthetic of http://www.smosch.com/ (she is in
Slice: Issue 3), http://covers.fwis.com/ for book covers, and
http://ilovetypography.com/ for all things type.

My sites! 
www.amysly.com
www.slicemagazine.org

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amy sly!
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