Charles Hively, publisher and art director, opens the door to his Prospect Park home and office. Charles founded 3×3 in December 2003. It is the only magazine to devote itself entirely to illustration and with three issues a year, including an international juried annual of the best illustration in advertising, books and editorial, Charles is a very busy publisher.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I’ve worked from home on-and-off since moving to New York in 1999. First on the upper east side, then in Astoria and since 2005, Brooklyn. We’re one block from Prospect Park in a two-story home; we have the full second floor.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? Minimalist. I want my projects to look under-designed, inviting to read and memorable. The highest compliment I receive is when someone says they read one of our publications cover to cover. Fortunately dealing with contemporary illustration as a subject allows us an opportunity to showcase work that is not only colorful but meaningful as well.
How do you keep your work space organized? It’s actually disorganized chaos at most times, especially my desk. My partner, Sarah Munt’s desk is always much cleaner than mine. I’ll clean my desk after a major project or just recently before our Christmas party.
We do have two closets where we can keep our magazines and books plus supplies for mailing. And of course our bookshelves hold our reference materials. There are three sets of bookshelves throughout the apartment and every nook and cranny has something related to our work—we’ve managed to find some interesting spaces to hide stuff.
When you set up your home office what did you have to keep in mind? Were there any particular obstacles to overcome? As I’ve told people, we couldn’t have a live/work space and turn out publications and books like we do now twenty years ago—we would have to have had much more space. And as you know space is a premium in New York. We also can’t have our studio in Manhattan today, there wouldn’t be enough space even for what we need now at a price we could afford. So the space has to work well for living and working; actually I look at it as a work/live space since so little of it is just personal space. Almost every room has a business function whether it’s storage or workspace.
What I kinda realized but didn’t hit home until I moved in is that my commute is seconds. I rarely go outside—which I’m trying to be better about—except for lunch. And it’s a real shame as Prospect Park is just a block away. I have to say I’ve been better in 2010 about getting outside more but that’s the biggest difference in working at home. Working for someone else means a commute and in this city sometimes a long and always interesting commute.
Is there any piece of home office furniture do you most treasure? My Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. I have had it for thirty years now, it’s much more a piece of sculpture to admire than sitting in. Not that it’s uncomfortable—because it isn’t—I fall asleep every time I sit in it. But it’s a good place to look over text and organize the day. A much more functional piece of furniture is my 4-foot adjustable height folding table which I got just a month ago on Amazon for $85. This gets a lot of use during our book seasons, I can spread out my little thumbnails and work out the flow of the book by color, theme or composition. Before this year I was stooped over in the club chair doing it on the floor—I’ve made good advancements this year!
What would you change about your work space? More open space and about 300 more square feet. The space is workable as it is, the light is great, the views relaxing it just would be nicer to have a bit more space to move around in.
What inspires you? Art. Books. Furniture. I collect all three and I pride myself in not paying retail for any of my furniture finds. I joke that my Eames shell chairs were just $50 each—a friend found them for me in a barn in Indiana—a set of eight in two different colors. My Mies Brno tubular chairs were just $40 each—a lot of times I’ve been lucky to find them where no one knows their real value. To me great furniture design is art, it’s 3-D sculpture. I like looking at them as much as I like sitting in them. And thanks to the Strand and Amazon my book collection isn’t pricey either, now when it comes to art, the price isn’t negotiable!