Hilary Greenbaum: Q&A from Stacie’s email
Why did you decide to study design? (Feel free to write as much as you like throughout. More text will give the students more to work with.)
Since a very young age, I was drawn to visuals, and for the longest time, the only word in my vocabulary for that interest was â€˜art’. But by the time I was in high school, I began to realize that the parts of art-making that I enjoyed the most (problem-solving, creating with others in mind, etc.) were actually design. Before sending me off to college to study design, though, my parents wanted for me experience what design school meant and sent me to Carnegie Mellon’s summer program in design between my junior and senior year in high school. I loved it, and decided to apply to Carnegie Mellon’s design program the following year.
What year did you graduate from CMU?
What were a few of your most memorable moments at CMU (courses, people, etc.) and why?
Working in the studio freshman year was very formative. I remember drawing a lot of cubes and striped shirts, and feeling fully immersed in my coursework. As the years went on, I recall typography classes with Karen Moyer, color theory with Mark Mentzer, and photography with Charlee Brodsky (which I ended up minoring in) with great fondness.
What have you done professionally from the time you left CMU until now? (Please include a general timeline.)
After graduating, I took a job in Portland, Oregon, at Ziba, a design firm with roots in industrial design. After three years there, I decided to go back to school at the California Institute of the Arts to change the course of my career. At the time, I was really interested in pursuing editorial design, and worked for two of my professors to concentrate on book design. After graduating in 2006, I moved to New York, worked for a handful of small studios, and then landed a job at the New York Times Magazine. I was there for five years, and during that time, I developed covers and feature stories on a weekly basis from concept to execution, managed multiple special issues for both print and web, commissioned and art directed illustrations and typography, headed the development, refinement and implementation of the 2009 redesign of the magazine, oversaw the early development and prototype of the magazine’s iPad app, initiated and authored the â€˜Who Made That?’ feature on the magazine’s blog which became a weekly, printed column. In 2012, I left for my current job as the Director of Graphic Design for the Whitney Museum of American Art where I’m responsible for the ongoing creative direction of museum’s graphic identity system across all platforms.
Who/What has inspired/impacted you/your work throughout your career and in what way?
I see every job I’ve had, and everyone I’ve had the opportunity to work with as a learning opportunity. Each experience has helped shaped who I am as a designer, even if the experience wasn’t a positive one.
What do you enjoy most and least about the work that you do and why?
Most: being hands on, because I learn through designing. Least: project management, because it takes a lot of time to do well.
What are your design aspirations for the future? What do you hope to do in the coming years?
I hope to continue learning and practicing as a designer through projects that have cultural relevance and impact.
What piques your curiosity relative to design?
Its constantly evolving role in business.
What do you wish you knew and/or had done when you were a student in the School of Design?
I wish I had spent less time working solo, and more time with my classmates.
What advice would you give a student pursuing a career in design?
Find what facet of design intrigues you the most, and pursue it, but don’t be afraid to change course if another facet takes its place. Design is a responsive field, and you as a designer should be responsive along with it.
What do you see as potentially exciting opportunities for designers in the next several years?
Technology! AR! There are so many digital advancements happening that design can and should be a part of.
What do you see as important roles/responsibilities for designers to take in the coming years?
Designers in the digital era will have to balance their pursuits with the privacy of their users. There’s a lot of ethics involved in how digital products glean data, and as designers, we should be aware of how that data could be compromised.
What is your favorite typeface and why?
I don’t have a favorite typeface.
What is your favorite color and why?
I don’t have a favorite color.
What is your favorite design book and why?
I still reference the “Looking Closer” series of books, especially books 1–3. They contain a range of critical perspectives, both historical and contemporary, that are surprising relevant. It’s easy to get lost in the present moment when it comes to design, but reading these essays reminds me of some of the profession’s universal qualities and struggles. There could be more thoughtful design writing in our field today.
Do you have any fun facts about yourself and/or design that you’d like to share with the students? If so, please jot them down.
Are there resources that the students can utilize to learn more about you and your work? If so, please list them (websites, books, etc.).
hilarygreenbaum.com and design.whitney.org
May one of the students contact you once or twice in early 2018 if they have a few additional question? If so, how would you prefer that they reach you? Please include your contact information.
We began class by looking at previous class’s finished books for this assignment, and began brainstorming questions we would like to answer about our people
We also began thinking about connecting all of our people together, and this transitioned into what would become the post-it board, in which we could map all of our different people’s information in a somewhat cohesive way. We came up with groups such as Places, People, Work, Jobs, and CMU, and placed the individual questions within these categories. We also learned about Richard Saul Wurman’s LATCH system for categorizing information in order to help us with this process.
In class, we began trying to organize what had become kind of a mess of post-it notes on the wall, while considering the LATCH methods of organization. I worked with Carolyn to categorize these two sections. Both of them were pretty small and it was hard to find a lot of commonalities. We mostly grouped things based on category.
We also worked in teams to decode the previous year’s spreads and an interactive website. I worked with Jacob and we analyzed someone’s biography on Jan Tschichold. We saw that they used elements like muted primary colors, fonts for quotes and headers, and bold lines to keep the design of their spread continuous. They also based this design on Tschichold’s ideas about type and design.
Next, we looked at the website https://www.ginlane.com/. The first thing we saw was a white page with a waving blue line going across. It stayed until you hovered the mouse, and then the website was revealed. The site was kind of an endless scroll of different projects, and there was a really consistent feel to all of the designs they did. All of them felt very modern but professional at the same time.
I think the point of these exercises was to see how different designers make their work feel cohesive but at the same time reflect the needs/brands of other people. With the spreads, we have to figure out how to achieve our own successful designs that still maintain the style of the designer that we are studying. This idea applies to the Gin Lane website, in which they met the needs of their customers yet made their brand very consistent.
2/19/18 — Finding Images
Questions I am thinking of asking her:
In relation to this tweet and her being in a very high position at an important museum, I want to ask her something about being a woman in this situation and how her practice relates to feminism.
2/20/18 — In class work
Stacie helped us to develop a system of gathering all of our ideas together and organizing the information we are going to be using in our spreads. I find this way of working to be very helpful to my process and I really appreciate being guided through these steps of just arranging everything on an 11x17 so that all of the information I will need is all organized and in one place.
In class, we talked about the idea of city features as metaphors for ways of organizing content visually. This was an interesting exercise because we haven’t really gone into depth at all with grid systems yet, but this metaphor seemed like a vague introduction to what we will learn soon. I am excited to learn about grid systems and other technical skills like type setting because I feel like I don’t have any concrete knowledge on these topics and when I am designing anything I usually just use a rule of thumb / guess based on how I think it looks. I feel like I could become a much better designer if I actually knew the rules about making grids and organizing content.
This draft of what types I might use for my spread is pretty rough but is what I am tentatively considering right now. Something I think I need to work on more is making sure that my type choices (and other stylistic choices) at least somewhat align with Hilary’s style and that they don’t just appeal to my own taste. However, to choose these types I tried to look at some of Hilary’s work and since a lot of it is for the New York Times Magazine and other publications, there was a lot of serif type and I am not sure if I want to use serif for the body type. I think this is something I need to explore more but for now these are some of my ideas about what I could do with typeface.
2/27/18 — starting to learn grids
Today’s class was a lot of information that I am not sure I am going to remember. It was kind of overwhelming but also exciting because I really want to be proficient in technical graphic design skills and this is the first time that I am learning about grids in depth.
I began to think about layouts but it was kind of hard to visualize on half of the size and with just drawing in the content. I tried to base it off of the amount of content I planned out for each page but I don’t think I really estimated correctly because there is almost no white space in all of these layouts. I also tried to think about how I could use line, like the Whitney W, to guide my content, but I think I might need to save this idea for later in the process.
I printed out all of my content, cut it out, and tried arranging it in different ways on a baseline grid. Based on these arrangements, I made a version in InDesign.
On Thursday we talked about how the spreads at first should be somewhat boring, and then as we learn the grid structure we can make them more interesting. I definitely feel that these spreads are uninteresting but hopefully soon I will be able to start experimenting more and actually designing rather than just arranging content.
Starting to think about the cover
I found this image that I really like of Hilary and I liked how it looked paired with the bold font. I want to add some accent colors of the four colors I am using for my spreads: blue, green, yellow, and red; but I couldn’t figure out how to do this well yet. For now, I am working with this cover idea and I want to add more to it later.
I decided to switch to using black as a background because it is more interesting and it also reflects Hilary’s (and my own) style. Her website’s background is black (and so is mine) and she uses bold type and images a lot, which goes with the heavy feeling of a black background.
After speaking about some general guidelines and tips from Stacie based on all of the spread drafts we turned in before spring break, we had about an hour to work. My goal for this hour was to figure out the rest of my content (after learning that I couldn’t substitute the Q&A with quotes) and to start iterating on my older spreads. The main issue I am struggling with is how to make my spreads dynamic and interesting, yet structured at the same time. I am trying to reflect the boldness and strong structure of Hilary’s work but I also want to add my own style, which tends to be more busy/dynamic. I also was having trouble with how to distinguish the different types of text. Stacie gave me some suggestions. For the structural issues, she gave some examples of how I could block off parts of pages or entire pages and just dedicate them to either text or photos. She also suggested that instead of making the text different colors to distinguish the different types, I could use some sort of graphic element.
Later in the Day
My goal by the end of tonight was to create new spreads that responded to the peer review and Stacie’s feedback from earlier. This is what I worked on so far.
I tried brainstorming some different graphics I could use to indicate different text and I decided I liked the circle the best.
After working on these for a while, I feel a lot more confident about the direction that my spreads are going in. I am hoping to get feedback on them in class tomorrow because since I have been looking at them for so long, it is hard to be objective and spot how I can further improve them. I also know that I need to start getting more serious about the website, and now that I have a more concrete structure to my spreads I am going to start doing that.
Later in the day
The main two things I need to figure out for my spreads for Tuesday are
1. The graphics I am using to show different types of text: Stacie pointed out that if Hilary doesn’t use circular shapes a lot / there are no other circular shapes in my spreads (which she doesn’t / there aren’t), then the circles feel kind of out of place.
2: My cover. I really have no idea what to do for it yet.
Other than my lack of cover idea, I think my project is moving along pretty well, but there are definitely a lot of final touches that still need to be made.
Final(ish) Adjustments to Spreads — Including cover and back cover
This is what I turned in on Tuesday 3/27
The main crit I got in class on Tuesday was that because of the black background, my spreads lack depth, so I decided to try to bring in the gray line from my cover into my spreads in order to add a background that would make the content of my spreads the foreground.
I made a few final touches and finalized my spreads. The main feedback I got from Stacie when she gave back our spreads last week was to make my diagram more cohesive, so I did the most work on that, but I felt pretty good about the rest of my spreads besides some small details. Here is my final: