Jeff Burch works as art director at W Magazine and Conde Nast in New York. Burch has the kind of graphic design career dreams are made of and it all started after he graduated from Wintec in 2004 with a Bachelor of Media Arts. He’s back home to share his insights at Spark International Festival of Music, Media Art and Design at Wintec from 6-9 August. We caught up with Jeff for a preview on the workings of a creative in a global luxury market and how he came to co-found Collider Studio New York with the Askill Brothers.
Tell us about yourself, what do you do?
I am originally from Palm Springs California but grew up in Tauranga and Mt. Maunganui. I lived in Sydney for a time, but have been in New York City for the last eight years.
My father was a professional photographer, so I grew up in darkrooms and around a lot of images; prints, slides, books. Unsurprisingly I now work as an art director, mostly across fashion, beauty and lifestyle for advertising and editorial.
Currently I work as art director at W Magazine and across projects for other Condé Nast brands. It involves not only art direction and design for print and digital platforms, but also advertising projects for our in-house agency led by Raul Martinez. In addition to my day job I also run a small imprint called The Spring Press with a friend Pedro Ramos, and more recently started a creative collective with the Askill brothers.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
It’s difficult to pinpoint just one, but working in video is incredible especially if there are sympathetic production budgets. I worked for several seasons on video heavy campaigns, and it was always really rewarding seeing a storyboard come to life on-set and in post production.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
It’s wonderful to collaborate with creatives and clients from all over the world – people from all different backgrounds – creating beautiful outcomes for some of the finest brands.
What informs your practice? Where do you go for ideas, information and inspiration?
We are quite spoilt in this city in regards to access, so getting out to see art and music every so often is really essential. Beyond that I love the history and cultures of North Africa and the Arab world, travel is always the best thing for the creative spirit.
Can you name a creative that you admired and why?
Again it is difficult to name just one. I love the work of Amy Troost, Ethan James Green, Roe Ethridge, Collier Schorr, Paul Wetherell etc. all of whom we commission through W quite regularly.
There are art directors with whom I’ve admired or with whom I’ve worked, but you also have to find your own way.
If you weren’t a creative – what would you be doing?
If there were still a possibility of making a living in music, perhaps I might do that? I would also be quite happy by the ocean, tending to some olive groves.
What are you working on this year? / What’s your focus this year?
Making sure that progressive social-democrats advance in our mid-term elections! Also helping my wife heal as she suffers from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. It is a disease that is surprisingly common, extremely debilitating and plagued with a very effective misinformation campaign and thus a dire lack of real research and funding.
What can people expect from your talk at the 2018 Spark International Festival at Wintec in August?
I have a more formal presentation as well as a few workshops where I’ll be interfacing with students. I am still considering how I might like to present, but I want to mix personal projects with commercial work, still with video etc.
I want to identify some of the languages of the markets in which I work so students might be able to better locate their strengths. Moving into the industry abroad can be quite intimidating, so I hope I can help give younger people a road map for navigating those early stages. Very much looking forward to it!