Fred Woodward

2006 Richard Gangel Art Director Award Honoree: Fred Woodward

The highly deserving recipient of the first Richard Gangel Art Director Award is the legendary Fred Woodward, who exemplifies the excellence and vision for which this award was conceived.

Fred Woodward has been such an incredible force in the field of design and art direction that it is hard to imagine where our industry would be had he not existed. Over the past several decades he has worked with many illustrators and utilized a myriad of styles and aesthetics. Under his watch and influence our field has flourished, and for that we can all be grateful. His ideas and solutions have influenced many of the younger designers and art directors who have followed in his footsteps. As an art director, Woodward has always encouraged creativity in his illustrators and allowed artists the flexibility and freedom to make autonomous personal visual statements. His conceptual use of illustration included the “stand alone” illustration page, whereby illustration was sometimes used not merely in conjunction or in response to an article but rather as a statement unto itself.

Born in 1953 in Louisville, Mississippi, and after majoring in journalism, physical education, and political science at Mississippi State University, he moved to Memphis State University and finally settled on graphic design. His first duty as art director was at Memphis magazine. He then moved to D magazine (Dallas), Westward (the Dallas Times Herald), Texas Monthly, and Regardie’s in Washington, D.C.

However, the position for which he is most revered is his tenure at Rolling Stone magazine. He began as art director there in 1987 and his leadership spanned 14 years and almost 400 issues.

As art director, Fred Woodward earned Rolling Stone more international design awards than any other magazine in the United States, including the National Magazine Awards’ General Excellence Prize. In 1990 the magazine received a total of 17 gold and silver medals from the Art Directors Club of New York, the most awarded to a single recipient in the club’s 72 year history. The Society of Publication Designers awarded him the first ever “Best in Show” honor in 1995. In 1996 Woodward was the youngest ever to be inducted into the Art Directors Hall of Fame and in 1997 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Type Directors Club. In 2004 he was given the prestigious AIGA medal for Design Legends.

Along with the numerous books he has designed, in 1999 Woodward edited and designed The Illustrated Portraits of Rolling Stone, a volume that is a collection of the best paintings, caricatures, and drawings ever to grace the pages of that magazine. This volume serves as a who’s who of the illustration world including luminaries such as Ralph Steadman, Milton Glaser, Philip Burke, and others too numerous to mention.

In 2001 Woodward became design director at GQ magazine where he continues to delight readers with his creative and innovative work.

-Anita Kunz