Assistant art director Craig Gartner, who designed this week's College Football Preview package (he created its look by choosing the typography, sizing the photos and laying out the stories), can trace his passion for both art and sports to a single moment during the 1972 World Series, between the Oakland A's and the Cincinnati Reds. While Game 1 blared on the television in the Gartners' house in Parsippany, N.J., eight-year-old Craig paid scant attention until announcer Curt Gowdy held up the A's three jerseys. As Gowdy pronounced the names of the bold colors on the shirts—Fort Knox gold, wedding-gown white and Kelly green—Gartner was hooked. "I remember thinking, 'Wow, what great uniforms,' " he says. " 'What great colors, what great color names! I hope that team wins.' "
Oakland did win the Series—and gained, in Gartner, an ardent fan. Gartner also threw himself feverishly into drawing. He copied so many magazine photos of A's outfielders Joe Rudi and Reggie Jackson that he could soon draw them from memory.
Gartner's enthusiasm for the A's wasn't dampened by the bad luck his heroes suffered whenever he saw them in person. Each time he went to Yankee Stadium, the A's were shellacked. One particular memory still rankles: It was Shirt Day at Shea Stadium (Yankee Stadium was being renovated) in 1975; the Yankees clobbered the A's 9-1. "You know the worst part?" says Gartner. "I got a Yankee jersey!"
By his senior year in high school Gartner realized that 1) he wasn't going to be a big-time athlete—he counts among his sporting achievements the 4:48 mile he once ran for Parsippany Hills High and the 216 he accidentally bowled one night in 1990—and 2) he could actually earn a living as a graphic designer. So, after graduation, he enrolled in the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. While there he completed internships at the school newspaper, The Daily Targum, at Rolling Stone and at a New York design studio owned by renowned designer Milton Glaser. Gartner graduated in 1986 and joined SI as a layout artist a year later. In between he spent nine months doing paste-up work at Starlog Press, which published Wrestling All Stars. ("Don't knock it," he says. "I got to meet Andre the Giant and Big John Studd.") What Gartner particularly likes about magazine work, he says, is that "you have a published chronicle of your progress as an artist. It's nice to see your own improvement."
Gartner, 27, has made rapid progress at SI. He was promoted to assistant art director last fall, and he made his directorial debut with the 1990 Pro Football Preview issue. Clearly, as this week's issue shows, Gartner's palette has expanded well beyond Fort Knox gold, wedding-gown white and Kelly green.
Gartner keeps the A's—and football, too—in his gaze.