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Employee Profile: Matthew Magruder

We here at ABC are grateful that the person we found to replace our previous art director (Sean Barnes) was able to “hit the pavement running,” as the saying goes, and has continued the tradition of beautiful layouts in HerbalGram as well as tasteful layouts of other ABC publications.

Matt was our obvious choice in a fairly wide field of candidates who applied for the art director position. He has previous design and layout experience in other magazines. At ABC, Matt is responsible for all HerbalGram artwork and layout, as well as designing ABC’s Web site, e-publications, brochures, ads, and related materials that require a graphic interface.

These duties include many of the following tasks: acquisition and selection of artwork and photography; formatting the text of all articles in HerbalGram; and preparing and delivering press-ready files to ABC’s printer. Matt is also responsible for doing similar tasks with all other printed materials produced by ABC (e.g., flyers, catalogs, and trade show booth graphics).

When he’s not doing his graphic work at ABC so he can pay the rent, Matt devotes much of his time to his true love—photography. And he’s not just interested in the 35 mm and digital domain—his interests reach into the history of photography, back almost to the beginning. You won’t see Matt out on a Saturday afternoon with his Nikon or Canon digital hanging from his neck. No, this guy goes for the less convenient, much less portable, wood, leather, and metal cameras that were typically in use about a hundred years ago.

We’ve all seen old photos or perhaps silent movies with scenes of a man with a large, bulky camera mounted on a large wooden-tripod, with the photographer “hiding” under a black cloth while he adjusts his equipment for the one shot he can take before he has to wait minutes, or hours, for the next opportunity. If you saw such a scene today, that would probably be Matt under the black cloak.

On weekends, Matt will sometimes drive hundreds of miles to an outof-the-way place where he can take a special shot of a country scene, an old barn, schoolhouse or church, or some other scene he finds compelling and wants to commit to the chemicals on the old glass photographic plates he uses. And, unlike his colleagues with the Nikons, there is film (albeit a huge sheet of film), but no digital-memory cards—just some chemicals, film, and evanescent light, and Matt, waiting for the one opportunity to capture the moment forever. It’s kind of like hunting a deer with a bow and arrow—you usually get only one chance. There have been times, Matt relates, when he’s come back to Austin after having traveled several hundred miles roundtrip with nothing to show for his time—the moment came and went, and he didn’t get the shot he wanted, or he used the wrong aperture setting, or something else didn’t go right. All he had to show for the day or weekend was more mileage on his car, and another opportunity to pay the one-arm bandits we call gas pumps. However, he would also say that it was time well spent.

—Mark Blumenthal