Gail Anderson

Ann Willoughby
Willoughby By Design

Patrick Coyne
Communication Arts
Gail Anderson Gail Anderson. During the early part of her career Gail Anderson was seen but not much heard, which doesn't mean she wasn't outspoken. In fact, typographically speaking she was incredibly eloquent. At Rolling Stone magazine, where she held numerous positions from 1987–2002, starting as an associate and becoming senior art director, Anderson lent her flair to much of the conceptual typography that defined the magazine's feature pages. She appreciably contributed to the widespread eclectic typographic fashion that prevailed throughout the 1990s but never fell into a style trap. For much of her tenure at Rolling Stone, working with art director (and AIGA Medalist) Fred Woodward, she fine-tuned her typographic expressionism in a cramped office filled floor to ceiling with all kinds of stimulating scraps, devising quirky letterforms out of traditional and untraditional materials, from hot metal and wood type to twigs and bottle caps. From this typographic wellspring came an ever-expanding vocabulary of signs and symbols, methods and mannerisms that, in turn, influenced a slew of designers who followed (and at times copied) her graphic eccentricities. After Rolling Stone she joined SpotCo, one of the largest entertainment design agencies in New York, where she is now creative director of design, and for half a dozen years her poster designs for scores of Broadway and off-Broadway plays have illuminated bus shelters, subway stations and billboards.

A lifelong New Yorker, Anderson embodies three virtues: inspiring art director, inspired designer and inspirational teacher. Despite being deceptively low key, she does everything with intense passion. Her extreme devotion to craft (she often frets for ages over the minutest typographic detail) combined with an unceasing, though always natural, pursuit of whimsy distinguishes her brand of quirkiness from the larger pack of knee-jerk quirks. While some might choose to call her method retro, the work defies stylistic pigeonholing. She revels in making typography from old and new forms, which is neither modernist nor post-modernist, but rather spot-on contemporaneous. During the early digital '90s when typography was alternately under- and over-adorned, Anderson exacted the right balance with compositions that were elegant yet muscular, and, more importantly, surprising and delightful. "Her significant contribution to design," says Drew Hodges, her former classmate and current employer as founder and president of SpotCo, "is a belief in the tradition of typography and a joy in using it in a contemporary vernacular."

Anderson developed her approach while studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York under Paula Scher. But growing up, she recalls, "I used to make little Jackson Five and Partridge Family magazines. I wondered who designed Spec, 16 and Tiger Beat in real life, and as I got older, I began to research what was then called 'commercial art.'"

Anderson's first job post-college was a brief stint at Vintage Books in 1984, followed by two years at The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, from 1985–1987. Under art director Ronn Campisi, the Globe was at the vanguard of new newspaper design. She worked on the magazine with Lynn Staley and Lucy Bartholomay. Meanwhile, Campisi was an early proponent of typographic eclecticism, which stirred together Victorian, Deco and Futurist typographies in a contemporary stew.

Working with Woodward at Rolling Stone was a hand-in-glove experience—they knew each other about as well as two people could. "Music always set the tone, and he was into low lighting, so the design room felt sort of cozy," Anderson recalls. "And he'd just howl with glee when we 'got it' and it was a winner. He could really get you jazzed about the process, even when it was difficult." Anderson's own typographic proclivities were ultimately well suited to Rolling Stone, where she designed what might best be called "theatrical typography."

Like actors on a stage Anderson directed letterforms to perform dramatic and comic feats. In just two dimensions they emoted, expressed and exuded energy that projected them off the page. It is no surprise that the class she now teaches in the School of Visual Arts' MFA Designer as Author program is about choreographing typefaces, making them dance to the beats and rhythms of popular and alternative music.

Anderson has a special gift for assigning illustration and has been a stalwart advocate of illustrators, both upcoming and established. "With her keen eye for fresh talent, she nurtured a whole generation of illustrators, while staying loyal to the greats as well," says Woodward.

The most difficult time in her career came in 2002, after her move to SpotCo, when negotiating the transition from editorial design to advertising. "You approach each project searching for a dozen great ideas, not just one or two," Anderson explains of how her work competes for the attention (and dollars) of theatergoers. "After about seven designs, you realize there really are infinite ways to look at a problem. I now completely enjoy the process, though I'm keenly aware that all but one of those dozen great ideas will eventually be killed. It's strangely liberating."

Always looking for that little visual wink or tiny gesture of extra care, Anderson says, "I'm all about the wood-type bits and pieces. I love making those crunchy little objects into other things, like faces." A fancy border and detailed extras are always part of her repertoire. "I'd ask the designers I work with to put them on everything, if I could," Anderson says, "but I like being employed."

More often than not, however, Anderson admits that even in her theater posters the ornamentation is peeled off little by little. "If we've done our job properly, the doodads become part of the package, and not something in the way that needs to be reduced or cut out."

I have worked with Anderson for close to 20 years as a co-author on various books, only two of which she has also designed. Each collaboration has been an exceptional treat. In a collaborator it is the greatest asset for an author to be motivated by design. Every section—indeed each spread of the books we did that Anderson designed—was ingenious, if not joyful. The mixture of disparate, elegantly proportioned faces and ornamental borders and rules—among her graphic signatures—produced smile-inducing visual experiences that engage the reader more intimately with the content. In this sense she is a generous designer who actually cares about her audience.

For its human dimension, the art for The Good Body, the Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues) show about women and body image, struck just the right chord with its curvy Isabelle Dervaux line drawing and two ice-cream scoops for breasts. But Anderson may be best known for the Avenue Q subway-inspired, puppet-fur logo, a delightfully witty image that became an indelible brand for the play. "I'm definitely wittier on paper than in real life," she laments. "I think I approach the work looking for a little wink where I can, because deep down, I hope people associate clever with smart. Or maybe in the end, I still subscribe to Ronn Campisi's fish-wrap theory. If I think of it as disposable, I'm less likely to fear experimenting a little."

Anderson has been the quintessential collaborator because, as she notes, "it's more fun to work with other designers and art directors; I really enjoy the back and forth." Every now and then, though, she needs to design alone, "in my office, with my music on." She adds, "Most high-octane, solo designing has to be done at night. I'm trying to change my ways but it's not always easy."

Another evolution for this formidable print designer is her expansion into new media. Fortuitously, her type, which has always seemed to move, lends itself perfectly to motion. As her lifetime achievement is being celebrated, we can be sure that Anderson has yet a lifetime more to achieve.

More on Gail Anderson at SVA | More on Gail Anderson at AIGA

Ann Willoughby Ann Willoughby. When Ann Willoughby enters a room, you can feel it. She is engaging and charming and has a way of making everyone around her feel welcome. Her gentle Southern accent belies the fact that she is a trailblazing, fearless entrepreneur with more than 45 years of design experience under her belt.

Born and raised in rural Mississippi, she learned at a young age from her great grandmother how the world worked. "We had our own garden, cows, chickens," Willoughby recalls. "Everything that she did taught me how to see the world as a system. Nothing was ever wasted." It was a turbulent time in America, with racial tensions at an all-time high. Even as a young Southern girl, Willoughby recognized injustice: She wanted to redefine culture in a place where most people around her wanted to preserve the past.

Willoughby attended the University of Southern Mississippi and got her first "design" job at Waldorf Department Store creating the storefront displays. She was soon put in charge of visual merchandising and fashion illustration. Upon moving to Kansas City, Missouri, she landed an art director position at an insurance company—she refers to the culture there as "Mad Men on steroids"—but left after six months for a fashion illustration job at Macy's. Her work was winning awards and gaining national attention, but she felt pigeonholed and wasn't fulfilled professionally.

In 1972 she attended the Aspen Design Conference and it changed her life. There, she met her mentor, Milton Glaser. At the time, she was juggling a career and raising two small children, and it was taking its toll. She confided to Glaser that she was thinking about quitting, and he strongly advised her to stick with it. She did, and in 1974 she started a small business in her garage that allowed her to do the kind of work she wanted to do and tend to her family. Willoughby's business model attracted other talented women who were looking for the same kind of support, which was unheard of at the time. "I hired the best and brightest women, and they stayed because I provided them flexibility. In turn, I got the best work," she explains.

Glaser says, "Through intelligence and perseverance, she reinvented her professional designation. Ann realized she could make her life what she wanted it to be, which is a significant accomplishment."

In 1978, Ann Willoughby & Associates (now Willoughby Design) was officially founded in Kansas City. Over the years, the firm has built long-term client relationships with Lee Jeans, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Hallmark Cards and many other companies. Her iterative approach to brand identity development and her ability to identify gaps in the market to help her clients maximize their potential have earned her recognition.

Most importantly, Willoughby consistently strives to create positive change through design.She built a new kind of design firm and generously supports aspiring female designers. She has been a pioneer in every new design initiative, including sustainable design, experience design, social innovation and demonstrating the value of design to business. In 2007, she created a campaign for the United Nations called Deliver Now for Women and Children, which aims to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health worldwide. Her firm even put a new face on public transportation in Kansas City, which launched in 2003, contributing to a dramatic increase in ridership. They are currently working on a new streetcar and regional transit system that will launch in 2015.

Willoughby has served on AIGA's board of directors and was a founding board member of the AIGA Center for Sustainable Design. In 2005, she was named Kansas City's first AIGA Fellow.

"Ann Willoughby's name contains 'will' and 'will be,'" Glaser says. "Her path reflects those characteristics." Willoughby is the ultimate example of what can be achieved through perseverance, talent and determination.

More on Ann Willoughby at Willoughby By Design | More on Ann Willoughby at AIGA

Patrick Coyne Patrick Coyne. Patrick Coyne is the editor and designer of Communication Arts, the world's largest journal of visual communication. The recipient of numerous awards for his design and art direction (including a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators), Coyne received the 2004 AIGA Medal and was named a 2012 AIGA San Francisco Fellow.

Born in 1957 in Palo Alto, California, Coyne studied design at the California College of the Arts. Prior to joining Communication Arts in 1986, Coyne worked as a graphic designer for Michael Mabry and SBG Partners and then co-founded the San Francisco-based design firm Patrick Coyne Stephanie Steyer Design Office.

During his tenure as editor and designer of Communication Arts, Coyne has been a frequent speaker at numerous art directors and advertising clubs as well as local, national and international design conferences and has received medals and distinctive merits from AIGA, STA and Society of Illustrators. He is also a member of the AIGA and an honorary member of the Society of Typographic Arts and the University and College Designers Association.

Coyne is vice-president of the Richard and Jean Coyne Family Foundation. The foundation currently funds seventeen programs managed by educational institutions and non-profit trade organizations that help economically disadvantaged high-school students develop portfolios to qualify for admission to art school and/or provide college scholarships for economically disadvantaged students to study graphic design, advertising, photography and illustration.

As a drummer he still enjoys rocking out with his bandmates in Zru Vogue—much to the embarrassment of his children. And as a middle-aged snowboarder he resents now being called a "gray-on-a-tray."

More on Patrick Coyne at Communication Arts | More on Patrick Coyne at AIGA