Skip to content
Emmet Smith, Creative director, National Geographic
At work with

Emmet Smith, Creative director, National Geographic

This Monday we’re in Washington DC with National Geographic’s creative director, Emmet Smith. Before his talk at Modmag, Emmet gave us the low down on a typical Monday morning behind the scenes at Nat Geo’s offices.

Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work
I drop the kids off at school around nine, then have a short walk to the Metro and a 20-minute ride in. On the train it’s music (the new Phosphorescent album is in heavy rotation) or the New Yorker, whose articles tend to be the perfect length for my ride.

Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office
At National Geographic, all the offices are on the inside of the floor to maximise natural light for everyone, not just managers. So, my office looks out on the infographics and cartography departments and layout rooms where we review work.

My desk is a disaster. I’m banking on all those dubious studies that proclaim a messy desk the sign of a sharp mind.

Which magazine do you first remember?
Nintendo Power.

Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
Pottery Making Illustrated. Though I’d have a hard time making it through my week without The New Yorker and The Atlantic. Those two are really firing on all cylinders right now.

Can you describe your magazine in three words?
Arresting. Pioneering. Illuminating.

What are you going to be talking about at ModMag?
On a small scale, I’ll be talking about the redesign we just implemented. Pulling back a bit though, I’ll be talking about the amount of daily reinvention necessary to keep a 130-year-old book relevant today.

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak alongside you at ModMag on 1 November?
Is everyone a fair answer?

What’s going to be the highlight of this week for you?
It’s always invigorating to get to meet new people who have the privilege of spending their days doing this odd thing that is magazine making.

What will you be doing after this chat?
Walking into the office just in time (let’s be honest, probably late) for a quick stand-up meeting with the directors of Design, Infographics and Cartography to talk through the day ahead.

@NatGeo ‏

Emmet Smith will be speaking at this year’s ModMag London conference on Thursday 1 November.
Book your ticket now.

Previous post 22.10.18
Next post Jana Al Obeidyine, a Dance Mag