This month we put the Spotlight on Cristina Stoll who works on print and graphic design for The LAMP. She has worked on a wide range of material with us, including the redesign of our LAMPlit resource guides, our own line of Flip cameras and a number of other items used internally and for promotion. Find out what she has to say about her work in publishing, her background in German and what she thinks every aspiring media professional should learn.
How did you get interested in the publishing and print media industry? My interest developed in high school. I spent many hours absorbed in the production work of the school newspaper and yearbook. In all cases, I was interested in the technical aspects of publishing — software, workflow, and output. This led me to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where I studied print media as an undergraduate student. At RIT, I focused on hands-on, collaborative projects outside of the classroom to determine where I wanted to steer my career post-university. After graduation, I received a very unique position in book publishing at Penguin Group (USA) in New York.
As a pre-press associate for the Penguin Group, what is a typical day like for you? There is no such thing as a typical day. Daily, I am expected to troubleshoot and/or consult on technical issues as they arise — so, I never know what exactly is on my plate until the minute it happens. However, I do try to limit this to 50% of my day. The other half, I focus on development projects, which range from assessing the creative workflow to researching new publishing technology to teaching group training courses. My department is very small and young, two people under the age of 26, but developing at a rapid pace.
When someone approaches you about design or layout, what are some of the first things you consider as you start working? I’m not a trained designer, so my work is strictly influenced by the content and the people publishing it. When I work on projects for The LAMP, I focus on clean, simple design in which the content can be easily understood and re-purposed.
You also have a strong background in German language and culture. What got you interested in German? Have you found any major differences in working for a German company versus an American company? I am a second generation German-American, so I grew up around German culture and language. While at RIT, I was able to learn the language more in-depth through minor studies and a study-abroad experience in Marburg, Germany. I also took the opportunity to work as a co-op student at Fogra in Munich. This experience greatly influenced the way in which I work today at Penguin Group. At Fogra, people were diligent in their work and less focused on the glamour. You were respected for the work you contributed and your expertise. I enjoyed working in this atmosphere. American work culture is very different, and in many cases, the exact opposite of this. However, I am glad to work for a more progressive company within a small department that understands this philosophy.
How did you come to be interested in media literacy? I first became interested in media literacy in Rochester, New York where I involved in some community volunteer projects. The interest evolved once I began working in publishing and became familiar with The LAMP’s work.
What part of your work do you enjoy most? I enjoy helping people. Finding new and effective ways to teach creative professionals is always challenging, but their appreciation and respect makes it worth it. The designers that I support daily in the Young Readers division are progressive and open to workflow changes that help their creative process.
What advice would you offer someone who is interested in pursuing a career in print media? I would recommend having a technical background, to some degree, before entering the industry. This really helps you understand where the industry is going and how to evolve with it.