Monday, February 27, 2012

Interview excerpt with Candlewick Press' Art Director


Kristen Nobles is the Art Director, Candlewick Press

How did you arrive at your current position of Art Director at one of the world's largest independent publishing companies, Candlewick Press, and what was your career path before that?

Stalking. No, really! I had traveled to New England from California for a wedding and knew that Candlewick was in Cambridge, MA (we are now just a few blocks away in Somerville, MA) from admiring their books at industry shows. I showed up on the doorstep and was granted an informational interview with the Human Resources Director. Knowing I wanted to eventually return to the east coast to be nearer to family and friends, I kept a pretty close eye on the positions available after that first visit. About a year later, in 2004, I applied to and then accepted a position to manage the art department and develop the look of their early reader books (what we call 6x9s internally or Candlewick Sparks in paperback). Previously I was a Senior Designer at Chronicle Books, a Designer at Workman publishing, and a Junior (Adult Jackets) Designer at St. Martin’s Press. I briefly worked in magazine design and in art museums including a fellowship at the Peppy Guggenheim Museum in Venice. All experiences eventually led me to focus on working with illustrators – which makes perfect sense for a communications design / art history major.

.... How would you describe Candlewick's 'personality' in terms of the type of children's books the company publishes?

Schizophrenic? Even the list you mention above ranges from simple edgy humor to classically sweet to a fantastical tale of humanity to nonfiction with clarity. I don’t think we have a personality so much as we strive for very high quality on each and every individual book. Our decision making is driven by appropriateness to each unique story – from the illustrator choice to the font and paper stock. As far as fictional picture books I would generally say that we look for unique characters with strong voices and narratives – both in the text and the art. However, for every generalization there is an exception.

How many books does Candlewick publish per year?

Approximately 225-250 (not counting paperbacks and reuse!)

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