Charlotte Strick and Claire Williams Martinez

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PARTNERS, STRICK&WILLIAMS, NEW YORK NY

In March 2014 Charlotte Strick (left) and Claire Williams Martinez (right) formed the multidisciplinary design firm Strick&Williams. The partners bring to the studio fifteen years of experience working for publishers and design agencies, respectively. Strick&Williams collaborates with clients in education, the arts, books, non-profits and everything in-between. Clients include Abrams Books, Cambridge University Press, Catapult, Chelsea Market, Columbia Global Reports, Columbia University, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Fig Tree Books, The French Institute Alliance Française, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Jewish Lives, Yale University, MoMA, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Penguin Press, Random House, Simon & Schuster and W.W. Norton. Charlotte believes in the collaborative nature of the design process, and to that end builds strong relationships with her clients, her team, and her dedicated circle of illustrators, photographers, editors and printers. In addition to the firm, Charlotte is the current Art Editor for The Paris Review literary magazine. From 2000-2014 Charlotte was a designer turned Art Director at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, where she designed book covers for much-loved authors like Jonathan Franzen, Roberto Bolaño, and Lydia Davis. Her work has won many awards, and she holds degrees from Wheaton College and Parsons School of Design. Claire has had a diverse background serving corporate, cultural, and non-profit clients. Previously, she designed for Studio Blue and VSA Partners in Chicago, where clients included The Newberry Library, The University of Chicago, Harley Davidson, and Western Union and projects included branding initiatives, annual reports, website design, and print communication collateral. She also served as President of AIGA Chicago. Claire’s work has been recognized widely, and she holds degrees from Vassar College and Parsons School of Design.

Charlotte Strick

WHERE OR HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR DESIGN WORK?
Fine art and writing are great sources of inspiration to me. Because I worked in-house at the esteemed literary publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux for fourteen years and because Strick&Williams continues to design books, much of the work I’ve produced in my career has been inspired and driven by the words of authors. In this way it’s been wonderful to have so many outside and unexpected collaborators whose own work triggers new thinking within me.

HOW DOES WHERE YOU WERE BORN, GREW UP OR LIVE NOW AFFECT YOUR DESIGN SENSIBILITY OR STYLE?
I was born in Manhattan in the 1970s, and my parents moved house to the Connecticut suburbs when I was seven years old. My early memories of the city appear in technicolor for me; I remember both the glitter and the grit. Today I live in Brooklyn, the borough my great grandparents settled in when they arrived from Eastern Europe through Ellis Island. It’s a powerful and energizing feeling to be making my way on the same soil (cement) that they did. Today’s Brooklyn is a true design capital, and I feel lucky to live here in this time when there is so much interest in reviving old techniques in everything from handcrafted cheeses, chocolates and hot sauce (!) to letterpress printing and engraving.

FAVORITE COLOR?
Warm and gorgeous shades of orange

FAVORITE TYPEFACE?
I remain in awe of Vinter, designed by Monokrom

FAVORITE TV Shows?
Freaks and Geeks, The Dick Van Dyke Show

FAVORITE BOOKS?
Oh, too many! Here are some: Just Friends by Patti Smith; Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra; Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee; The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis; Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion (which I suspect Claire will also choose).

FAVORITE MOVIES?
I dream of sharing binoculars with James Stewart in “Rear Window” and to have Grace Kelly’s wardrobe from the film.

FAVORITE MUSICIANS OR BANDS?
All time favorite is Patsy Cline

FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA?
Currently Tumblr

FAVORITE FINE ARTISTS?
Richard Diebenkorn, Sonia Delaunay, Fairfield Porter, Marlene Dumas, Marisol Escobar, Antoni Tàpies, William Eggleston, Tauba Auerbach, Mariska Karasz, Kurt Schwitters, I could really go on and on …

GREATEST STRENGTH/WEAKNESS AS A DESIGNER?
Strength: A rich imagination.
Weakness: A tendency towards procrastination.

TALENT YOU WISHED YOU POSSESSED?
To magically transport myself from one location to the next with just a twitch of my nose, like Samantha, a good and sassy witch, from the fabulously kitsch 1960’s TV show Bewitched. I’d be far better rested if this were possible.

ADVICE TO A YOUNG DESIGNER JUST STARTING OUT?
Keep your eyes open, but don’t just look to other graphic designers for inspiration ‒ remember that anything and everything can spark a good idea.

IF NOT A DESIGNER, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
An art restorer or a child advocate

A MANTRA OR SAYING YOU LIVE BY?
There’s a lid for every pot. It’s an old adage derived from Balzac that my British mother has always used. It explains so many odd and wonderful match-ups.

Claire Williams Martinez

WHERE OR HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR DESIGN WORK?
My clients inspire me. An understanding of what makes people and organizations distinct leads to unique visual representations.

HOW DOES WHERE YOU WERE BORN, GREW UP OR LIVE NOW AFFECT YOUR DESIGN SENSIBILITY OR STYLE?
I was born in Geneva, Switzerland, to a British mother and an Australian father, but I was raised mostly in New York state. My sense of humor is affected by my family’s European roots, as is the way I speak. Word choices and intonations are sometimes different from my peers, which has led to some funny, embarrassing situations. The great exception here is my business partner, Charlotte, who also has a British mother. So we understand each other.

FAVORITE COLOR?
Green, all shades of it

FAVORITE TYPEFACE?
An impossible question to answer

FAVORITE TV SHOW?
Recently, Top of the Lake directed by Jane Campion

FAVORITE BOOKS?
Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion

FAVORITE MOVIES?
For pure camp value, Strictly Ballroom

FAVORITE MUSICIANS OR BANDS?
Nina Simone, The Pixies, Johnny Cash

FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA?
Instagram

FAVORITE FINE ARTISTS?
Urs Fischer, Julia Margaret Cameron, Auguste Rodin, Hiroshi Sugimoto

GREATEST STRENGTH AS A DESIGNER?
A fascination with figuring out what makes people tick

TALENT YOU WISHED YOU POSSESSED?
Speed reading

ADVICE TO A YOUNG DESIGNER JUST STARTING OUT?
Consider the kinds of problems and organizations you want to work with. It is just as important to have a perspective, as it is to have design expertise.

IF NOT A DESIGNER, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
Actor

A MANTRA OR SAYING YOU LIVE BY?
Embrace complexity

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