Jason Sfetko is a Deputy Art Director at The New York Times Magazine. He graduated in 2008 with a BFA in Graphic Design from Rochester Institute of Technology. Prior to The New York Times Magazine, Sfetko worked at GQ Magazine under Fred Woodward. His interest in editorial design undoubtedly stems from his role as Design Director for Postive/Negative Magazine during his senior year at RIT.
Please briefly describe your current position in more detail, including your responsibilities and job tasks:
My job is to align art creatively to a story in a way that helps tell the story and pull a reader in. That usually means creation and direction through illustration, photography or typography. As the Deputy Art Director I’m heavily involved in the design of the magazine. I usually design a feature story every week and a handful of Front of Book pages. I also will art direct and design 2-3 special issues a year and oversee the Front of Book pages every week.
Please briefly describe your career path, including the reasons behind job changes, since graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology:
After graduating I had an internship lined up in New York at a magazine. While I was there I was looking for something full time. I ended up landing a full time position at a small publication that had just been redesigned by a well known design studio. I knew that it would receive a lot of attention and help me in my career. After a few years there learning from my boss and getting good experience. I went on to a couple other magazines before landing my current job here at the Times.
How did your experiences at Rochester Institute of Technology (e.g., academic studies, extra-curricular activities, student groups) prepare you for your career?:
I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do until I started working at Reporter Magazine. The experience I received while working there was a perfect launching pad to my career. Also, my portfolio class with Chris Lyons prepared me for job hunting. I used one of my projects to be a competition entry to the Society of Publication Designers student competition. I ended up winning an award and internship in New York at a major publication and used that experience to land my first job.
What job resources (internships, summer opportunities, work experiences, or individuals) have influenced your career choice(s)?:
I would enter student competitions, they’re a good way to measure yourself against your peers. Internships are always good, they’re great experience and a good way to network. I specifically researched who was doing the best work in my field and did everything I could to work alongside them, to learn from them. Surrounding yourself with talented people will only make you a better designer.
What advice would you give to a student interested in your field?:
Make sure you are passionate about what you do. Try to do as many internships as you can before you graduate. Research the places you want to work for and tailor your portfolio for the kind of work they do.
Click to view Jason’s portfolio
If you are an RIT GD or VCU alumnus and would like to be featured in a future “Spotlight” column on the Graphic Design program blog, please click this link to answer some questions to tell us more about yourself and your current work. We would love to feature you!