Monica Nelson graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY in 2008. She designed the catalog and other books for Urban Outfitters from 2008-2011. Monica lives in Portland since currently working as an Art Director at Wieden + Kennedy. She is also the Art Director of the print publication Wilder Quarterly.
How did you start out as an art director?
It is something that I have always been interested in. I love book design and generating content, and I think that working with photography was how I became really interested in it.
When and how did you start your collaboration with Celestine Maddy? How did Wilder Quarterly came about?
Celestine contacted me while I was in the process of leaving Urban. She was talking to a few art directors and got my name through a mutual friend. I made her a huge PDF of what I would do with a gardening magazine and it was apparently exactly what she was thinking.
Was it easy to shift from art direction in the fashion world to a magazine dealing with nature and gardening? What did inspire you?
I think it is an easy transition. I don’t think that I’ve ever been interested in Fashion in a frivolous way. Not to say that fashion is entirely frivolous, but I am interested in the culture and the presence of the people in fashion–the person wearing the clothes, the way the body moves, the shape. All qualities that translate to gardening as well. Wilder is about the person in the garden and the culture that surrounds it, the dirty hands, the colors, beautiful shapes, sunlight. (In the same way that Apartamento is interested in the mess and personality of a personal space — not the perfect alignment of the coffee table and the picture frame).
In your opinion is there something about Wilder Quarterly that could be improved? Why?
We need to be seasonal! Its really hard to do! We are trying. There are so many challenges of a new magazine trying to feature produce and plants and photograph content before it happens.
Are you a “contemporary gardener” too?
I love plants! I love the lifestyle and the ideas around it. I love that it is sustainable and an idea that is only going to “grow” (pun intended) as time passes. Its extremely relevant and exciting. But, do I have plants? I have a jade plant and a flowering cactus. When I stop traveling so much and living in hotels half the time, I would love to have more plants or a garden.
Are there any other projects you are involved in besides Wilder Quarterly?
I am designing an architecture journal with a few of my friends who graduated from Yale last year. It will be out in September (www.projectjournal.org). I am also doing a book with a publisher in Portland and a book with a friend that is a sculptor in NYC! I’m really busy. And a few other things, I’m a workaholic.
What is a typical work day like for you? Any special perks?
My work days are all pretty different. I got through spans of time where I spend all day and night at the W+K office, and then I go through spans of time when I am designing Wilder on planes and in coffee shops and in the middle of the night.
Where do you see yourself in a few years time?
I would like to work abroad at some point in my career. I think especially for advertising it would be an amazing experience.
Who is the woman you’d like to see featured / interviewed here?
The contemporary women that inspire me the most are Taryn Simon, Sophie Calle, Lydia Davis, Viviane Sassen, Collier Shorr.
File under: Interview