Meet the Editors: An Interview with Design Editor, Reilly Cox
It’s a new year and new staff here at BWR. We (the editors) interviewed each other so that you (the world) could get a sense of us as editors/readers. We’re pleased to meet you!
Interview by JACK SAUL
Jack Saul: Would you give us a little bio of yourself?
Reilly Cox: I was born in Baltimore and raised in the more rural parts of Maryland before returning to Baltimore after college. I’ve worked various jobs, ranging from scenic carpentry to digital design to bartending, but have always enjoyed books and writing.
JS: What distinguishes BWR design-wise?
RC: BWR is bit of a motley hound when it comes to design, but it always manages to keep tempered to craft and reason. In terms of covers, we’ve featured regal portraiture, bubblegum-pop sculptures, macabre fairytale scenes, and just about everything in between. Flipping through the pages, the amount of variety within is astounding, with writing that is literally stitched over to comics to sectioned hybrids, but one never feels displaced from BWR. There’s this fracture and strangeness that we seem to curate and it creates such a lovely experience to be in.
JS: What are your big grand plans for BWR’s design this year?
RC: If at all possible, not screw it up.
JS: What do you look out for in comics and art submissions to BWR? What have you been waiting for that you haven’t seen yet?
RC: I like to see work that is sturdy yet vulnerable. A piece of art, for me, should be both emotionally and intellectually compelling and doesn’t rely entirely on one element. It should risk something. Just like the writing we accept, we are a journal that desires daring, intelligence, and emotion in conversation with one another. The art should do that, too.
JS: What should I know about fonts that I don’t already know? What’s the coolest thing right now? What will never die? What should I always avoid? Don’t some fonts have unsavory histories?
RC: Well, one thing would be that you (and most people you know) are probably using “font” incorrectly. When most people say “font,” they’re referring to a typeface (a family of gathered fonts), whereas a font is a specific size and weight of a typeface. Nowadays, though, the words are used interchangeably, for the most part. Garamond has been around since the 1500s, so it seems to be near immortal at this point. Helvetica is a more recent but solid contender, if you’d rather something sans serif. What you should avoid is a tricky question, as it really comes down to what you’re using it for. I love Circus but would want something simpler for a spread; Americana is near to my heart but can be hard to read for some people; etc. When in a pinch, avoid what doesn’t read or is over complicated—or, in the case of Comic Sans or Script, oversaturated in the culture. As for unsavory histories, a lot of Gothic typefaces were co-opted by fascists throughout the twentieth century, so those typefaces are still trying to shake off that association.
JS: Who are some artists and designers you like at the moment? Who do you want to get to pay attention to the journal and the work that you’ll be doing?
RC: I like surreal tattoo artists like Dusty Limbs, who also does these wonderful shell and rock sculpture. Her work is personal and beautiful but also not precious, which is something I admire. There’s also more established artists like ARYZ, who does fantastic and vibrant mural work—this work that at once is shared and seen but also will be affected and eventually destroyed by the elements. And I wouldn’t be being dishonest if I didn’t mention my brother and first collaborator, Brennan Emmett Cox, with his printmaking and collage. We both have this ferocious appetite to create and to engage with the various forms of destruction and trauma that make up being a human being and I always feel recharged after seeing or responding to his work.
JS: You make and fix many things. What’s something you’ve made or fixed recently?
RC: I went for a walk around my neighborhood the other day and found a gorgeous coat rack that someone was throwing out. The threading for the middle bolt that held the sections together was busted out, and one of the arms was broken beyond repair, so I extended the bolt so it could actually grab something and removed the bad arm and cleaned it up and now I have a fancy coat rack.
JS: Tell us an amusing anecdote.
RC: My family visited over break and we went for a walk along the river while it was still flooded [Interviewer’s Note: This is the Black Warrior River—the river after which this journal was named.]. As we were coming back along one of the longer foot bridges, the water began to rise so much that the bridge itself started to submerge as we were in the middle of crossing it. We hurried along but by the last few feet were up on the rails, scrambling sideways and leaping to higher ground. It was quite the relaxing walk.
JS: Because it seems requisite for these interviews: What can you tell us about that Iris of yours (your cat)?
RC: I would rather let Iris speak for herself, so:
[Interviewer’s Note: And you can also read Reilly’s words about Iris over at Cosmonauts Avenue in this stellar essay.]