The interview was a little more intimidating than most. Two professionals greeted me dressed in suits. The office was big, well designed, clean, had multiple offices and workstations and a huge board room. I also knew that they had large government clients and specialized in document production; an area I had little to no experience with. I immediately felt out of my league. But as usual I was willing to bend the truth to get the job. I had had document experience but it was more than 5 years old doing the Full Bore Catalogue with Blackbird PCD. I also had Quark Xpress experience but, again, it was 5 years old as well and on a PC. But I knew I could relearn quickly so i said I knew it. PLUS I brought InDesign experience that, over the next four years, would pull the company away from Quark; so, added bonus.
This is where I learned how to manage a publication. Charlie Smith, the owner and creative director was a fantastic mentor for any designer to have. He is from the old school of design but had modernized like any who wished to remain successful. His attention to detail is the highest I have ever encountered. It was frustrating at first but it forced all of his employees to operate at a higher tempo which produced better work. I owe all of my typographic skill to Mr. Smith. Charlie called me on my stick-handling about Quark and document production early on. It was obvious the wheels had fallen off my go-kart. But he didn’t fire me so he must have seen that I was willing to learn and work hard. Who knows. Owning a business and having employees is a tough road.
Ryan/Smith was (and still is) filled with hard working, creative individuals who know how to work when there’s work and play when there’s not. I don’t think any other company treated it’s employees so well. Lunches, christmas parties, the annual cottage party. My job before didn’t have those perks and my job after certainly doesn’t.
I took from Ryan/Smith some life-long friends. What a wonderful bunch I worked with.
I like to think I did some of my best work under Charlie’s direction and with Manny, John, or Jennifer’s input.
Here are some of my favourites.