8 Questions with Jared Shapiro

I recently sat down with CZP book layout designer extraordinaire, Jared Shapiro, and—in my great and unmatched wisdom—asked him eight incredibly insightful questions, the answers to which currently inhabit the screen below this text I’m writing right now. I hope you find them edifying.

To give you a sense of his physical appearance, here’s a picture of the back of his head:

And here he is looking infinitely bored by our pedestrian layout requests ’cause everything just comes soooooooooo easily to him—oh, look at me, I’m Jared, with my wizard-like design skillz that put everyone else to shame:

Jared Shapiro, Designer

This post turned out much more passive-aggressive than I intended.

Brett Savory
Managing Editor
ChiZine Publications

1. How did you first get started with ChiZine Publications?

Sandra and Brett came to speak in my publishing class at Humber. I had a question regarding a specific book design I wanted to apply to one of my own stories. They said, “I’ll get you in touch with our designer. Incidentally, do you do book designs and layouts? We could use the extra set of hands.”

My response: “Yep, I sure do.” Then I marched straight to my teacher and said, “Help! I just told ChiZine I know how to design book interiors, but I actually have no clue what I’m doing.”

Suffice it to say I learned fast, and well aware of my publishing-ignorance I dared not submit a shoddy piece of work. We made Melanie Tem’s The Yellow Wood, and that was when I learned what “fake to take it till you make it” felt like.

2. Which layout jobs do you enjoy more: the simple ones with few bells and whistles, or the ones where you get to display a significant chunk of your design flair? (I suspect I know the answer to this one, but go on.)

Who says no to the prospect of getting to add your own creativity to someone else’s work? I already feel the need to always add my two cents; why not get paid to do it?

ChiZine embraces the creativity. They embrace the . . . well . . . the odd (please flip to the end of your ChiBook now). Simple books just won’t do for them, and that suits me just fine.

3. How did you get so damn good at never having widows, orphans, and broken ellipses in your layout work? This is truly a special skill, for which any designer should win a Major Award.

Do they even have awards for layouts and design work??? You know, this “8 Questions” article is really all the recognition I need.

Seriously . . . can someone tell me where all the awards are at?

4. Since day one, CZP has only ever used one font for their interiors. Besides this font (which, like the Colonel’s herbs and spices, is a secret), what’s your favourite font to use with other elements of CZP books?

You know, I love fonts. I LOVE them. But, there’s no single all-purpose typeface, no one-font-to-rule-them-all. It’s about using what makes the most sense for the book, and it’s about embellishing without stealing the limelight.

Okay, okay . . . Gun to my head, my favourite fonts are the clean ones: sleek and subtle, and they have to have good kerning, and a full character set. Will you tell me if I’m starting to fetishize the alphabet?

5. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you love staying up till 3 a.m. to get CZP rush jobs done? . . . Wait, did I say “love”? I meant, “loathe.”

. . . zzzzzzz . . .

Sorry, I try to get naps in whenever I can. Umm . . . Yeah, whatever you just said—I love that.

6. Did you go to school to develop your mad skills, or did you just teach yourself through real-world experience?

Can it be both? I went to school for Book Publishing, but I immersed myself in a world of learning once I got my first gig (see question one if you were being lazy, and skipped it). Lynda.com taught me a lot—thank you, Nigel French—as well as YouTube. I subscribe to an InDesign creative magazine and website, and I always push myself to try something new with each ChiBook I design.

7. What one piece of advice would you give to interior designers just starting out in the current job market?

1) Tell them you can do it, then learn to do it.
2) Get those widows, orphans, runts, rivers, and broken ellipses in line—that part is actually your job. Prettying up the pages is secondary.
3) Listen to what is asked of you. If someone asks you to give just one piece of advice, don’t give them three.

8. Have you ever seen a ghost? If so, did you solve the mystery of its terrible death, thus setting it free?

Yeah, it died reading my answers to this article. It still haunts me though. . . I don’t think it’ll ever be set free.

Wait, let me have another stab at this question. Shit, I just stabbed a guy who got in the way.

Round three: I feel like I’m missing that part of the brain that lets others see ghosts. That, or they are afraid of me.

To learn more about our phenomenal designer, you can follow Jared’s work online at:

Jared Shapiro | Design, Layout, & Editing

The Corwyn Chronicles | A New Fantasy World