About Evan Johnston

is a writer, designer, and illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY.

Short

Rambly

I've worked as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator since 2000. As a writer and cartoonist, I've contributed fiction and non-fiction to publications such as Punk Planet magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Berfrois, Graphic Design Dot Com, The Awl, and The Toast.

I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, which is about ten minutes away from Washington D.C. My career in book design began in high school when I started writing a zine that had a lot of weird humor, band interviews, and a lot of fonts from the 90s.

I went to SUNY Purchase, where I contributed stories comics to the campus lit magazine, and kept working on my zine. I interned for a small newspaper, The Georgetowner, in D.C., creating advertisements for local businesses, writing articles, making sense out of the filing cabinets.

After college I found myself in NYC working for a small publisher, M. Evans and Company (no relation). And at the time, this seemed like a mistake; most of my friends were working for dotcoms and making actual money. Even back then, people were talking about how print was over. But I was completely crazy for book design.

M. Evans published a lot of varied titles, there were very few templates, they always needed illustrations—there was showmanship in eveverything we worked on. I spent one night drinking coffee and drawing scary fish for a book about spearfishing because, hey, that was my job.

In 2005, after M. Evans was bought by their distributor, I started work for the book imprints of the New York Review of Books as a production manager. This was my big introduction to book design. Suddenly I was on the phone with design studios that I had only read about, seeing original illustrations by David Levine and Edward Gorey, making books that I would see in the front window of bookstores, books that I would think about for years because they were had such distinctive voices.

And that's what I've been doing. Here are some other highlights:

In 2013 I did a talk about making books for a kindergarten class. I illustrated a little story about an author and the steps that she goes through while getting her book published.

I've written a few articles about graphic design.

That same year I started making cartoons for The Toast. My favorite one is about a book designer, and it's totally not based on actual events.

In 2015 I helped launch New York Review Comics, a new imprint of the New York Review Books edited by Lucas Adams and Gabriel Winslow- Yost.

For the last four years, I've designed the poster for the New York Book Show.

Posters for the New York Book Show

Twitter: @evn_johnston

ehjohnston @ gmail.com