ALEX CAMLIN - BFA in Graphic Design, 1998
On his work:
I am a print designer and art director working primarily on books. Right now, I'm working as the Creative Director for Da Capo Press (a nonfiction trade book publisher), in their Cambridge, Massachusetts, office. My responsibilities include the art direction, design and production of approximately 100 book covers and jackets each year. This includes hiring photographers, illustrators and designers, in addition to designing several covers myself. My work days are busy, and typically include any combination of two or more of the following activities: designing, photo research, meetings, revisions, emails, phone calls, head-scratching, reading, more revisions, checking proofs, approving invoices and, of course, some measure of complaining and arguing. Weeknights and weekends are frequently used to work on assorted freelance projects.
On his recent accomplishments:
My work has been featured several times in Print Magazine's Regional Design Annual, The AIGA-Boston Best Of New England (B.O.N.E.) Show, and in Bookbuilders of Boston's Annual New England Book Show. One of my recent cover designs (for Reading Comics by Douglas Wolk) is a 2007 selection for the AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers competition, which will go on exhibit this fall in New York City. I have lectured regularly on book design at Emerson College and Harvard University, and I am currently an adjunct professor at Emerson College in Boston, where I teach a course in book design and production.
On his proudest achievement as an artist:
There's an old piece of advice (or an old cliché?) that says if you love what you do, success will come naturally. I guess I'm proud to say that I genuinely love what I do. My success or lack thereof is subjective, but it does feel good when people say
Wow, you have a really cool job!
--probably because I think so too.
CVPA's design program was heavy on theory and strived to produce designers who were able to think for themselves. Personally, the experience sparked an interest in exploring graphic design and typography that continues today. I think that the experience made me more competitive by demanding work that was based not just on aesthetics and style, but also on logical, creative thought.
On CVPA faculty:
The CVPA faculty had a great influence on me. I fondly remember Book Design and Color Theory with Professor Janine Wong and Typography and Design with Professor Spencer Ladd. Lessons learned in those classes still inform what I'm doing today.
On lessons learned in the "real world":
The various disciplines in art school seemed clearly defined. In life, the lines are blurred, at best. Staying fresh and relevant means that you must possess a willingness to try new methods, media and techniques. I've learned that it's important to challenge yourself by biting off a bit more than you can chew; that's the only way you'll learn anything on the job. There are so many things I've done (both positive and negative) that I never thought I would do. In addition, there are many things that I want to do again (typeface design, printmaking, photography, teaching, maybe even sculpture?) or try for the first time (website design, animation, design journalism, filmmaking) as soon as time or an opportunity presents itself.
Advice for today's students:
Any successful career in art or design is best fueled by constantly learning and experimenting. I really believe that earning a degree is just the first, very small step. Choosing to be an artist of any kind is really like making a commitment to be a life-long student. Actually, my work life isn't much different than life at CVPA--impossible deadlines, work overload, late nights and coffee are all still part of the mix. So quit now if you were hoping to phone it in at a 9-to-5 until your 401(k) kicks in!