About Evan Johnston

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



Hi! 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.

I did these illustrations for the short stories in Sleeping Dragons, a remarkable book of short stories by Magela Baudoin.

For the last four seven 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