Wendy Hu of the New York Press
posted: September 13, 2007
Wendy Hu, art director at the New York Press, has found a way to navigate the cross currents of her parents' culture and their adopted one.

"I was born in Taiwan, but I came to America when I was three. So I’m very Americanized, and I grew up mostly in North Carolina. When I was a kid, wow, I used to sketch a lot. I really enjoyed drawing, to tell you the truth. At one point I thought I was going to go into fashion design – I just loved it. I would sketch models all the time with these little outfits on. I remember when I was 13 I looked at a book by Yves St. Laurent, and I was entranced. But after a while, after dabbling in it, I realized I don’t really have the patience to go through pattern making. I like more of an immediate result. And that’s something I get from graphic design.

"I went to the North Carolina State School of Design, but, lord, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I just  knew I wanted to do something creative.  I was originally in their textile program, but I was really intrigued by the school of design and as I found out more about their different programs, I thought, 'Hey, this looks like something worth looking into!' So I ended up transitioning over to that school.

"I really wish I had learned more in terms of drawing, but in my family –  and I’m not bitter about – I was discouraged from really pursuing something in the fine arts realm. Not to play on the Asian stereotype about math and science, but there is a little level of truth to it. My brother, as a matter of fact, is in IT right now. But my parents wanted something that was – they are practical people, they wanted something that they knew was going to make money and they knew there are jobs out there.

"Unfortunately mom passed away a couple of years ago, but I think she would have been proud of what I'm doing. She was very creative, a true artist, but I think over time she became more practical, due to her culture. She could have been a fashion designer – she had the patience and the endurance and the craft. And she did amazing pottery and sketching, too. My father, I don’t know if he completely comprehends my field. But I think he is starting to have more respect for it, because there's something concrete that I can show him, 'Hey, here’s a cover, here’s a publication.'

"Although I grew up in North Carolina, I never really felt like I belonged there; the energy level somehow ... something was missing. I came to New York during college, and I said, 'Wow, I really like this energy level, I feel like I can vibe with this.' And so I came here not too long after school.

"I was a late bloomer, I didn’t really put myself out there when I was an adolescent. So when I came here, I was blossoming – I just wanted to talk to people, I wanted to do everything, I perhaps enjoyed life a little too much at times. When I started here at the New York Press, I was actually designing ads in the production department: the retail and classified ads and as a matter of fact I did some of the sex ads in the back of the paper, which were actually fun to do, believe it or not. After a while I became assistant production manager in that same department and then I heard the art director position in the editorial department was open and of course I jumped on that. And it’s been a very rewarding experience ever since.

"I wear a lot of hats, which can be a blessing and a curse sometimes. I do the graphic design, I do the interior editorial layouts, I do covers -- I love working on the covers. The fun thing also about wearing a lot of hats is that I also get to draw on some of the other things that I’m interested in, like I can be a stylist for my photo shoot, and help select the clothing or do some prop styling.

"I would say that right now I prefer photography over illustration just a little bit. It's fun doing these conceptual shoots of things that might not happen in reality and it’s an extension of my imagination to a certain extent. But lately I’ve gotten more of an appreciation for illustration as well. Another thing is to be able to support that community. As an alternative weekly, we  have a very limited budget, but there might be a way where we could showcase different artists on the covers and be able to spread the word about their work.

"I like collaborating with different artists and photographers, coming up with magic. I’ve had some really fun projects, and it’s nice to see what they can bring to the table, because I might have an idea, but they'll push it to another level with their style or their eye or their conceptualizing. So it’s fun."