Thursday, October 30, 2014

Running Press Book Publishers


I’ve known for a while that I wanted to pursue a career related to books. This spring, I applied to every publishing company that I knew of, mostly for design positions.  At the last minute, I remembered a smaller publishing company in Philadelphia (my hometown), where one of my community college professors used to be a designer at called Running Press Book Publishers. Luckily, my professor was still in touch with the present design director, so I was able to use him as a reference. I sent my information, which included my resume, a link to my behance portfolio, and a cover letter referencing my connection, directly to the design director via email. In a couple weeks I heard from the internship coordinator and scheduled an interview. I sent a thank you email and some updates to my portfolio the next day. I found out two weeks after the interview that I was hired. Scheduling was very flexible.
Running Press Book Publishers is a book publishing company. Like most small publishing companies, Running Press is essentially a branch owned by a larger company called Perseus Books Group. Running Press has two locations: one in Philadelphia and the other in London, which is noted in every title page interior logo. Running Press produces an interesting variety of books, much different from companies in New York, which specialize in one particular style or genre. Running Press produces many cookbooks, lifestyle books, crafting/DIY books, children’s books, young adult fiction, activity books, kits, mini kits, miniature editions, and many other miscellaneous types. Over all, Running Press produces visually focused books, which is another reason I was drawn to them.









    While I worked closely with six of the eight designers regularly, my legitimate supervisor was Jason Kayser. Jason is a designer at Running Press, and he oversees the intern program. He has been with the company for about six years, and takes a lot of creative initiative in his projects, such as taking on the illustration for the books he is assigned or pitching new (and often humorous) ideas for books.

My responsibilities and tasks at Running Press were very diverse. I spent three days a week there, and half of each day with one of six designers. Sometimes I continued on longer projects, other times I did shorter tasks like image sourcing or image editing. Occasionally, a designer would give me a hypothetical project such as a cover redesign or recreating an interior or cover to teach me certain skills, but most of the time I was contributing to real projects, whether that be rough interior layouts, tweaking finished interior layouts, text edits, cover concepts, more finished covers, hiring illustrators or image sourcing. My work was very independent, and typically involved a check in with the designer I was working with at the beginning and end of the shift.
Aside from all of the new skills and improved software proficiencies, I am proud of how I held myself professionally, and for initiative I took with opportunities at Running Press. However, my truest pride lies in a cover that I designed independently from start to finish, which is going to be published in Spring 2015. I was made aware that independent cover assignments are a rare opportunity with interns, so I took full advantage and put most of my focus on it. I got great feedback, and my cover was officially approved by the publisher. It was an amazing feeling.
The most important things that I’ve learned at Running Press are the things that you can only learn from experience. There is no other way to learn how to work in a professional environment but to just do it. So that was truly invaluable to me. On a smaller scale, I learned many skills that fine-­‐tuned my abilities to work on design-­‐ based software. I stepped out of my comfort zone a lot, and never regretted it. Perhaps another one of the most important things that I took away from my experience was professional connection. I was able to converse with, ask questions, and get feedback from professionals in the field that I was to pursue, as well as great tips and advice. I know the contacts that I’ve made here will serve me well in the future.
Working at Running Press this summer has really clarified things for me in terms

of my career path. I have very diverse interests, so it was really great for me to be able to test drive one of my options. I discovered that I love the publishing industry, and would really like to pursue book design. I enjoyed the stability, which is something that I want in my future. I have also learned from the background of designers that I worked with that where you start your career is not by any means where it will take you, or where you will finish it. I look forward to applying to more publishing internships next year, and hopefully qualifying to work in the publishing industry upon graduation. I would love to start my career at a place like Running Press.

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