Dawn Garcia

A Conversation with IDA’s Jury Dawn Garcia: Publisher & Editor-in-Chief at ATOD Magazine

Los Angeles native, Dawn Garcia is an award-winning writer, magazine editor and journalist who has taken a rather colourful road to get to where she is. With experience in network marketing and advertising, production, and publishing, she has written books, films, short fiction, TV Series’, and magazines. Her journey began as a makeup and special effects artist and eventually led her to her ultimate calling: storytelling. Known for her work ethic and impeccable taste in design and aesthetics, she continues to fight for quality content, diversity and inclusion, and innovation in the entertainment industry. The International Design Awards jury member tells us all about her experience judging the competition’s submissions.

What did you most enjoy about the IDA judging process?

Every year since I started as a jury member, I have been in continual awe of the innovation of design submissions and the incredible thoughtfulness of each visionary to leave a mark on the world. From architecture and graphic design, to interior design and products, I learn something each time I review the work of so many talented designers and that is a privilege I am grateful to experience.

Was there one particular design that really stood out for you?

There were 4: Henquing Culture and Art Complex in Macao, Tiajin Zarsion Exhibition Center, and Wenling Museum, but my favourite was ‘From a ruin to zero-energy balance house ‘. The transformation and marriage of the bones of the structure and its rich history blended with modern and rustic accents was done exceptionally.

What did you think about the quality of the entries in the IDA?

I am so impressed with the talent that exists in this world. Witnessing it through the IDA entries makes me feel further connected to humanity. The tangible creations that invite us to experience history, culture, progress, and cutting-edge innovations — it’s profoundly impactful.

How did you feel about the quality of the students’ entries?

I don’t recall too many differentials from the professional and student entries which should say something! Though I can’t say I paid as much attention to student vs professional, to be honest. I just found myself engaged with what I was seeing.

After reviewing the IDA projects, did you see evidence of current trends or challenges in the design industry?

Yes! So many thoughtful designs took the pandemic into consideration as well as climate consciousness. I was most impressed by the careful consideration of modern issues facing us globally and how to implement that into the design, particularly architecture. The structures that were intended for the medical workers, families, isolation, work environments, and creative space, utilizing sustainability, utility, and functionality left an impression. I am an avid supporter of design that implements materials that get us closer to climate neutrality, and there were plenty of entries that took that into consideration.

How much influence does your own personal taste influence your decisions in judging a design award?

I’d love to say none, but let’s be honest, we are all jurors for a reason. I tend to lean towards minimalism, environmentally conscious design, and design that evokes emotion and supports the human condition.

What advice would you give to future entrants?

I would definitely encourage each entrant to be certain that their design descriptions are really thought out. Some of them weren’t as persuasive as they could have been, which takes away from the design itself. I want to know the “why” as much as I want to understand the materials chosen and the mindset behind the vision.

What did you learn from this experience, and is there anything that you learned that you will take back to your respective business?

This year taught me to be more conscious of furthering my desire to live sustainably and not contribute to the degradation of the environment.

What are you working on, what is in the pipeline for you for 2021?

It’s going to be a crazy, wonderful year. I am running my magazine, ATOD Magazine, and have co-founded a media company with three other women where we will be launching three more publications. Two will have an emphasis on activism, environmentalism, and how art, film, community, equality, and systemic injustices factor into the choices we make, and the importance of pushing society forward in a positive—and actionable—direction. The third will be focused on women in business, emphasizing entrepreneurship.

I have finished creating and writing a TV Series. The pilot episode has won several awards and will be pitched to networks. I am also writing two feature films and will begin work on a third in spring. I’m hoping the virus gets under control and travel bans are lifted so we (me and my family, and my colleagues and I) can begin to experience more beautiful and culturally immersive travel. I am also going to be launching a podcast called “Drinking in the Pen” with a focus on creative intention, as well as printing a calendar with original and hopefully, inspiring quotes, and looking into crafting a coffee table book from ATOD Magazine if I’m able.

What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities in your career/industry now? 

Well in terms of film and television, production has been shut down putting a halt to any unproduced projects being shopped around. It’s been frustrating, but I also believe it’s given me (personally) way more time to finish films and television projects. Having more projects complete is a big advantage in this industry. As far as publishing, those companies I work with that are in print have transitioned to digital. That caused a major pay cut for many in the editorial department but has also made it very clear that digital is, as The Mandalorian says, the way which is something I’ve known since launching A Taste of Dawn (ATOD Magazine). That said, I love print and am so grateful for the publications that are thriving (there is nothing like holding a magazine in your hands), but it’s also a chance to reinvent one’s brand and place value on the people telling their stories.

I have found more work/life balance than I ever have before during this pandemic. I have been far more focused on taking projects on and managing my time and efforts to produce the best work possible, without exhausting myself mentally and depleting my motivation. I have also spent more time getting creative in the kitchen, and designing the interior of my home which has been so much fun!

As for challenges, there are always many, and the pandemic amplified that. As for opportunities, I feel I have heeded the mindset that opportunity is created, not given. I create as many opportunities as I possibly can.