UHoP 2019: Q&A with Glen Wilkins, art director

By   Hannah Bickerton 2 min read

My dad was a magazine art director, I remember as a kid helping mark up flat plans, art working, mostly rub down lettering (Letraset) and spending lots of time in IPC offices. I got an honours degree in graphic design at the LCP and have been in publishing ever since. A mixture of books and magazines. In 2000 I moved to the US and was creative director of a small boutique agency – we built websites and digital stuff for a whole range of clients and budgets. I moved back four years later and have been with various publishers since. Just recently I’ve been learning some new technologies to create fine art pieces and have just dipped my toe into animation with creative coding.

Tell us a little about yourself and your work.

I’ve been in and around publishing for thirty years, working on non-fiction books, news-stand magazines and digital products. Art direction, design, and some illustration work – I even wrote a book last century!

What does an average day at work look like?

For the past two months my average day has been working in-house at Hearst producing a series of food titles for Good Housekeeping. But usually I’m sat in my office at home designing and colouring in.

How has design and art direction changed over the course of your career – have you seen any notable changes since the rise in technology and self-publishing?

I started pre-computer, did manual word counts, did artwork with a scalpel, a waxer, cow gum, spray mount and Letraset. Nowadays all these things are somewhere inside my computer. It’s magic. And does mean I can be hands-on at every part of the design process.

Tell us about your creative process. How do you get a project from brief to final design?

I love the process, the collaboration. I do lots of scribbles in my notebook to get my head in the right place and then just start working. Don’t overthink it, just start with the big brush strokes and end with the detailed stuff. ‘After all is said and done, a lot more will have been said than done!’

You work on a variety of projects – photo shoots, magazine layouts, websites – is there a particular type of project that especially appeals to you?

I love a photoshoot, it seems like a nice place to start a project. Some striking images can lead the design of a book or magazine, can affect the choice of type, the colour palette and the pace of the book. It’s an exciting time in any project.

Is there one project you have particularly enjoyed working on, or perhaps something you’re looking forward to creating?

I’ve just recently started learning a programming language called ‘Processing’ where you can use code to manipulate illustrator files. You can take a simple file, introduce some rules, some logic and some randomness and output some incredibly complex patterns. It’s a real collaboration between me and the computer. I don’t know where it’ll take me but the journey is fun. You can see some work on my Instagram and website.

Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.