By Milhan Gorkey Fishman
Class of 1980
Anyone who knows me from high school remembers what a huge music fan I was. I lived and breathed music, probably even more than art. My dream was to take my Illustration background and work as an artist in the music industry, designing album covers. Well, part of that dream came true… during my senior year at Art & Design I started an internship through a friend who was working in the publicity department at Aucoin Management (KISS, Billy Idol, among others). She needed someone to sort through the daily packages of press clippings that they received, sort them, and lay them out as a booklet for every artist signed to the management company. Knowing that I was a student at Art & Design, she figured the cut/paste/layout work would come easy to me. So for almost two years I sat in a back room, just me and the KISS pinball machine, and put together these booklets. After graduating Art & Design, and while attending my freshman year at NYU, I was offered a full time job as the publicity department assistant. I left school, and never looked back. Interestingly enough, my very first boss and mentor, Ida S. Langsam is also an A&D alumna. Small world.
I worked in Public Relations in the music industry for the next 12+ years. Starting as an assistant, I continued to work my way up through the ranks at various record labels I headed up the East Coast publicity departments for Chrysalis and Capitol Records, and then went on to become the VP of Press and Artist Relations for Charisma/Virgin Records. Even though I never directly used my art school training, having a strong foundation in design and composition came in very handy when art directing publicity shoots, choosing promotional photos, and creating press kits. During my tenure, I had the pleasure of working with such a wide range of musical talents from Sir Paul McCartney, KISS and Billy Idol to Sinead O’Connor, Huey Lewis and The News, Bobby McFerrin, Dianne Reeves, Harry Belafonte, John Lee Hooker, and Right Said Fred, among many, many others. Two of the biggest records that I had the pleasure of working on were “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” (for which I received my first platinum album award), and “I’m Too Sexy.”
After enjoying a wonderfully successful career, I left the industry in 1993 to start a family. I’m proud that my children, now 21 and 17, are following in my creative footsteps. My daughter is studying filmmaking at Montclair State University, and my son is a budding musician. Follow your dreams, kids!