For the Record Jr. – Jay Wong

I am excited to share this new column in 2015. Every month we will be speaking with young professionals in the graphic arts industry to gain insights from a new perspective. In my teaching experience, some of the most brilliant ideas have come from those who are new to the industry.  This month we had the opportunity to interview Jay Wong. I have had the opportunity to be both Jay’s teacher and colleague. He is hard working, dependable and extremely poised. It is not often we meet individuals with his levels of skill and talent who are also very humble and eager to learn. Here are some of his insights.

Tell us about yourself (position, day-to-day, neat experiences, industry involvement, schooling, etc.)

Since graduating from the School of Graphic Communications Management (GCM) at Ryerson Univeristy, I’ve been working as a production coordinator and ad designer at St. Joseph Communications Media Group. I work specifically on FASHION, Glow, and Weddingbells magazines. As a production coordinator, I work closely with our advertisers to ensure ad material is submitted on time and to spec. However, I must say that I have the most fun putting on the ad designer hat. Working collaboratively with clients, we design everything from sixth-page partial ads to full-page advertorials. Nothing is more gratifying than getting the “I love it – approved!” email.

In addition, this school semester marks my third term teaching Layout & Typography at GCM. Sharing my industry experience and knowledge with students has been an extremely fulfilling experience. The hours I spend with my students in lab are easily the highlight of my week.

What is the most interesting graphic arts project you have seen?

Watching the constant transformation of the magazine industry up close and personal over the past couple of years has definitely been interesting. More specifically, watching our innovative tablet designers reimagining our print editions into interactive tablet editions has been very exciting. Digital editions of our print magazine were made available years ago, but these were static PDFs of our print edition. Nowadays, we have many talented tablet designers working on fleshed-out, interactive editions to accommodate the new ways our readership is engaging with our content and our storytelling. It’s fascinating to see how far tablet magazines have come in terms of features and capabilities.

Complete the following sentences:

I am surprised that in the graphic arts industry we still… no offense intended, but I still haven’t warmed up to the use of QR codes. I shudder whenever I’m asked to include them in any design. Luckily, they seem to be on the brink of extinction.

In 30 years books will…. still have a place on my shelves!

Which areas of your life have gone digital and which do you think will remain on paper?

I’m still very much a fan of paper. There’s nothing quite like leafing through a magazine you’ve worked on for the past several weeks when it arrives from the printer. Seeing the tactile manifestation of so many passionate hours of work is very rewarding for everyone involved. I also prefer looking at the tabloid-sized monthly calendar (covered in scribbles) posted above my desk, versus the miniature and undecipherable calendar apps available on my phone. Lastly, physically crossing out items on a written to-do list is so much more satisfying than hitting the little check mark on the Reminders app.

What keeps you up at night?

My thoughts. Usually “You’re forgetting something…” or “Am I getting an adequate amount of sleep?” I recently began a graduate degree program, and juggling that alongside three jobs probably makes me a diagnosable workaholic.

In all seriousness, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can improve my students’ educational experience. I’m especially interested in finding new ways to integrate technology into the classroom, in order to better engage students and improve content retention.

What makes you excited to come to work in the morning?

My colleagues in the production department are absolutely fantastic. The nature of our industry requires us to be adaptive to change and I believe we’ve really found our groove. A cliché that comes to mind is as if we are a group of seasoned sailors weathering a storm together. When it comes to teaching, I get excited about seeing those ‘aha’ moments and the students’ progression through the course. A majority of students enter the program with little experience using the applications commonly found in industry, so it’s impressive to see them take pride in their work towards the end of the course.

Do you have a mentor? If so, tell us about it and tell us why you feel mentorship is important?

I feel very fortunate to work in environments where I feel I have boundless support from my colleagues. I began at St. Joseph Communications years ago as an intern, and I had supportive production managers who guided me through all my questions and trials. At Ryerson, I still find it surreal to think of the professors and instructors, who have contributed profoundly to my education, as my colleagues. In particular, I think of Ian Baitz as my mentor. I’ve admired his thoroughness and hardworking attitude since working together on the Phoenix Challenge Competition.

Mentorship is extremely important, especially for recent graduates like myself. When you have a supportive group of colleagues behind you, you feel more empowered to step out of your comfort zone and take risks; this is where your learning and personal development truly begin.

Reach Jay on LinkedIn @