Artist Interview: Stephen Kamifuji
During my sophomore year at Biola, I had the great honor of interning for the creative director of a fashion magazine called Genlux Magazine, located in Beverly Hills CA. Stephen is the most sweetest, talented, and humble artist I've ever met, literally! I loved getting the opportunity to work with him and just getting a glimpse of all the hard work he puts into this awesome magazine. He's been such a huge inspiration in my life and someone I admire and have huge respect for, which is why I thought he'd be perfect to interview as my second artist. Not to mention, he does exactly what I dream of doing one day, which is to design my own magazine/publication! On this interview he talks about what makes a good designer, how Genlux came about, and what steps he had to take in order to be where he is today! So go on, keep on reading, it only gets better! ;)
1. What is your current job (that including side jobs)
“My current job as creative director of Genlux Magazine is to design the publication, to oversee the photo-shoots, which include the profiles of the featured celebrities, artists or designers as well as the photo-shoots of the current season’s fashion and models. For the publication I also design each of the pages, so that means putting together all the photography with typography, making and maintaining aesthetic nice, looking, cohesive pages.
I also help design advertisements for the people who don’t have Ads, so I can help facilitate that! I also design some logo designs and corporate identy systems for people”
2. What were the steps you had to take in order to be where you are today?
I went to Art Center College of Design. I started to design on behalf of other companies. Shortly after, I started my own design firm, having little jobs and not making much money. The single greatest asset of my initial growth was my education that I received and on the job training. Being a good designer you have to be pretty well versed in all subjects because the graphic designer has to take into consideration what is called a zeitgeisg and that’s kind of like what’s happening in the culture at the time because you have to shape your designs around what it is the culture is expecting or wants at the time. Being a good graphic designer is also knowing what has been done in the past so that you have a foundation—because everything always comes back. Having an understanding of past designs, studying other graphic designers at the time, then trying to create my own voice in design."
- Immersing myself in Graphic Design both present and past
How did Genlux come about?
"Creating Genlux came about having a love and passion for magazines, photography, design, typography, fashion, and philanthropy. Magazines are an embodiment of all those four basic disciplines. It was perfect for me because it met my passion.
The first step to get Genlux “up and going” was doing kind of an enterprise where I was a designer but I hadn’t really designed anything to do with editorial or publication design until this man named John Palmer asked me if I would design this magazine called “Privilege Magazine” and so I said ‘Yeah I’ll do it!’ so I started there for about 1 year. There was no creative freedom which is why Cecilia and I decided to start our own magazine in 2005 because we both were working at “privilege” at the same time and we both wanted creative freedom and really our own publication. We started Genlux raising a little bit of capital, which is very important—you need to raise some funding to get the first printing done. Equal to the design is the business side of the magazine and getting advertisers in."
3. Is there anything you don’t like about your job?
“No, I think that I love all the aspects. Although, in my end, I think the challenging part of any publication now-a-days is that the advertising aspect is kind of dying out because people are going more online, so it’s a very challenging field to kind of be in. I think THAT is one part that I don’t like, we have a diminishing category of what we do.”
4. If you could go back in time, are there any changes you would make in your career path, in other words, what do you think you could have done better?
“Started the magazine much earlier. Because my passion was always in publications but I never worked in it for some reason—which is weird. I’ve always been lead in my career path by the design aspect that brought the most amount of money so I kind of went in that direction.”
5. Before I enter the “real world” and leave my Biola bubble, what’s one thing you would want to let me to know?
“For me which was a successful part, that in what we do, the 'on the job' actual training or emmer cement is much more important than the school aspect. So you’re going to find that there are tools you have been given and that 90% of what is going to help you in your career, comes from actually working and doing and building your portfolio. “
6. What’s one thing you don’t get asked, that you wish you could get asked on an interview?
“If you could do anything tomorrow, without any restrictions, meaning not being held by finances or family, or any circumstances what would you do? Like okay—tomorrow is the last day of your life, what would you go and do? And my answer to that, I would want to be in Italy that day and walk on one of the hilltop village Assisi. Yeah so it has nothing to do with design…But for design I would like to be the creative director of Chanel, but more on the advertising side.”
And that completes the interview! I hope this interview serves as an inspiration for you as much as it did for me. Stephen decided to pursue after the things he was passionate for and enjoys all aspects of his career. This should motivate us to strive after our dreams, because just like Stephen, if you work hard, you can reach them!