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Julie Descamps 2023-09-22

Meet Patrick Coyne, the esteemed editor of Communication Arts, a magazine with a rich history dating back to 1959, covering graphic design, advertising, photography, illustration, typography, and interactive media. Patrick shares his insights on what made him want to join the Epica Awards, his enduring wellspring of inspiration, and the dynamic evolution of visual communication.


What inspired you to become a journalist and how did you get into the profession? Can you describe your journey with Communication Arts?

I literally grew up with Communication Arts as my parents founded the magazine when I was 18 months old. After helping out on the competitions over the years, I studied design in college, worked for several designers in San Francisco and became a partner in a design firm. When my father decided to retire, I decided San Francisco didn’t really need another graphic designer and I should continue my family’s legacy. While having a passion for the subject has made writing easier, it’s still hard to do well, even after 35 years.

What do you think sets Communication Arts apart as a publication in this industry?

We cover the whole spectrum of visual communications and our juried competitions attract work and judges from all over the world. We also spend a great deal of time crafting the text and layout, and a lot of money on quality printing and paper.

What motivated you to join the Epica Awards jury?

To see creative work that I might not be exposed to any other way. I’m also looking for potential profile subjects and potential judges for our own competitions.

What do you think makes a campaign or project 'award-worthy'?

A brilliant insight into the human condition crafted beautifully. I frequently see work with great concepts presented poorly and beautiful craftsmanship on projects lacking strong ideas. It’s rare to see both idea and execution in perfect harmony and collectively producing a memorable campaign.

Can you share some memorable campaigns or projects that have caught your eye recently?

Ogilvy Canada and Ogilvy UK’sCost of Beauty” film for Dove used a real girl’s photos, videos and diary entries to illustrate how toxic beauty content is harmful to the mental health of children. It’s deeply moving and powerful.

A campaign by Grey Colombia for grocery store chain Makro used produce stickers to communicate ripeness and recipe ideas to buyers to reduce food waste. It’s just so simple and brilliant!

How do you manage to keep up with trends and stay inspired?

I spend a lot of time on Feedly reading industry-related web articles, blogs and Medium posts. I’m also evaluating a lot of creative work submitted to Communication Arts and other creative portals. The volume is overwhelming, but brilliant thinking and stunning work make it easy to stay inspired.

How do you see the relationship between technology and visual communication evolving?

Creatives will continue to adopt new technology to increase efficiency and explore new visual frontiers. Using AI during the ideation and iteration process rather than as a substitute for illustration and photography is only just beginning and could be as revolutionary to the creative process as the personal computer was in the last century.

Are there any current trends in design or visual arts that you find particularly interesting or impactful?

Design brutalism, retro type, nostalgic branding… it feels like we’re looking backwards for comfort before moving forward into the unknown.

Who are your role models or mentors in journalism and the creative world? And what’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?

Certainly my father, Richard Coyne, who was trained as an art director and reluctantly became a journalist as there was no money to hire additional staff, and also my teachers at California College of the Arts, who were all practicing design professionals. But my greatest influence has been our competition judges, over 1,500 since our competitions began in 1960, whose insights about the entries, the current state of the industry and where they think the field is headed has been an invaluable source of inspiration.

The best career advice I received was from my mother, Jean Coyne, who told me to never use a big word when a small word will do.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your journalistic work?

Making music, woodworking, gardening, painting, hiking… there’s just not enough hours in the day.

Using AI during the ideation and iteration process rather than as a substitute for illustration and photography is only just beginning and could be as revolutionary to the creative process as the personal computer was in the last century.

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