Matt Willey: Humility And Hard Work

Oct 21 2015

By Fernando Capeto

Let’s focus on humility and hard work. Last Thursday the MFAD students had a lesson on the subject. Our guest lecturer was Matt Willey, nothing less than THE Art Director of THE New York Times magazine, and I can tell you that he really surprised us all.

Matt’s class was a mix of encouragement and allure. He showed us amazing work from his career, mainly focusing on publishing design, and presented some videos explaining the process behind all his hard work. For some of my friends, the class was even more special, one of them, even confessed how Matt, besides being such a great designer, was “so easy on the eyes”… don’t worry girl, I’m not saying any names here.

Most of the great designers already knew from a young age what they would become, but apparently for Matt, becoming a designer really felt like an “accidental thing”. In his own words, after failing as an illustrator and photographer in college, he changed his course and decided to focus on graphic design, or “the only other department left in that building”. And we are thankful that you did it Matt! After this change, the rest is history, and what a history!

Between us, how the hell does he manage to be THE Art Director and still find time to be the founder of two other magazines that has the same outstanding design quality? And have you seen his redesign of The Independent, the UK national newspaper? Wow! The guy just transformed the reading of the ‘old’ newspaper, as some might say, by breaking a lot of the well established rules and turned the experience into something radically more delightful and beautiful.

Lesson learned Matt. I’m still struggling on the time management part, but you showed us that it is possible to work hard and deliver a high level of design. All of that while still being humble and nice to other people.

*If you want to know more about Matt Willey’s work, visit his website.

Post by Fernando Capeto, 1st year student at SVA MFA Design.