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175 Size : 203.2(w)254(h)mm Co : M6 (mac J)
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19
B
orn in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1969, and raised in the suburban sprawl of nearby
Severna Park, Gaffney discovered his interest in graphic design in one epiphanic
moment at the age of eight. “The day I found the row of white and green Worldbook
Encyclopedias was when I knew I wanted to be a graphic artist—not that I actually knew
what a graphic artist was.” He wasn’t content just to breeze through this information, though.
He wanted to absorb it. “I began my own atlas, copying the population maps one by one,
feeling empowered by reiterating someone else’s charting of human settlement.” Projects
such as this honed Gaffney’s drawing skills, and his new talent found an immediate and
enthusiastic audience. “I drew for purely Pavlovian reasons. My parents indulged me
completely. Who would object to their kid holed up in his room copying encyclopedias?”
He grew fascinated by periodicals. “I inhaled my parents’ magazines—Reader’s Digest, Popular
Science, The Baltimore Sun, even Good Housekeeping.” Despite his young age, he displayed
a startling awareness of stylistic nuance. “I found the power of the printed word irresistible and
would spend hours reading articles of no relevance to me whatsoever. ‘We Rate the Top Ten
Microwaves!’ for example. I’d notice the subtle changes in typography and how the voice
changed with the content. I sensed the setting of priorities—for the magazine itself, and for
the culture at large—and wanted to understand how they were formed. For me they were as
much eye candy as a conduit to greater knowledge, a tapping-in to society’s conversation.”
As he got older, Gaffney continued to draw. “I was basically a human scanner. I eagerly took
on every art project high school could offer: drawing cartoons for the school paper, designing
the school arts magazine, painting corny murals, embellishing the backs of leather jackets
with logos of bands I had never heard of. I also conned my teachers into letting me present
reports as magazines and posters, so I could conceal my disinterest in the subject under
a layer of flashy graphics.”
GAFFNEY
155
EVAN
Raised on a diet of pop culture graphics and battle-hardened
from designing coupon ads for the Pennysaver, Evan Gaffney
has created book covers that are among the most elegant
and stylish designs to emerge from the postChip Kidd generation.
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