New York City: Q&A with Genevieve Williams and Dan Cassaro of SVA

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By: Caitlin Dover | December 14, 2009

Genevieve Williams was the creative director and Dan Cassaro one of the art directors for the Senior 2008 book for the School of Visual Arts.The book (above) is awinner in the New York City section of Print‘s 2009 Regional Design Annual.

Print: What’s your favorite thing about being a designer in New York?Williams: One favorite thing? Collaboration. There’s always someone watching. [You’re] challenged to always aim higher, think deeper, design better.

Cassaro: I agree with Gen. There’s so much talent here. It’s intimidating and inspiring and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

What was the single greatest challenge or obstacle in making this piece, and how did you overcome it?

Cassaro: We had three untested and extremely different designers who had the challenge of making one cohesive yearbook. So, we made three individual books instead. God bless America.

What was the process like for making this piece?

Williams: Dan Cassaro designed custom typography for his book (Book 2, Present). That inspired Christopher Lin to also design custom typography for his book (Book 1, Past). Christopher Lin illustrated the elements around the student portraits. That inspired Dan Cassaro to also illustrate around the portraits. Though each style is completely different, they challenged one another to do more and keep doing more.

Cassaro: To lure students into the photo shoots we used delicious pizza as an incentive. Interesting Fact: College students do not love pizza as much as ’90s slacker movies would have you believe. Anyway, it was a Domino’s pizza napkin that inspired my color palate. I kept the napkin on the wall of our office for the rest of the semester.

Did SVA give you a lot of leeway, or were you sticking to a strict brief?

Williams: SVA is the perfect client. As long as the piece makes sense for what it is, pushes the boundaries of similar pieces (preferably knocks them off the shelf), and shows off the school well, SVA is happy.

Cassaro: There were a lot of long nights. I grew my first beard. Genevieve put us on a deadline and had final say, but we more or less had free reign as long as we put in all the students and didn’t drop any F-Bombs.