bachelor of arts '98
Finds niche at Sports Illustrated
Visual artist and UO alumnus John Jaxheimer has crafted a niche in his hometown of New York City as creative director for brand marketing at Sports Illustrated.
Born and raised in New York, Jaxheimer says he chose to attend the UO for the school's broad range of strong programs. Soon after graduating with a bachelor's in art history, his career took off and hasn't stopped accelerating.
Before joining SI, Jaxheimer worked as a senior designer in the Rolling Stone Creative Services department. He has developed creative products for such brands as Coca-Cola, Nissan, Chevy, HBO, DirecTV, Apple, AT&T, Canon, HTC, Miller Lite, and roughly 70 others.
His role at SI involves conceptualization and overseeing all creative promotion and marketing of Sports Illustrated properties and brand extensions, including Sports Illustrated magazine (including the annual "Sportsman of the Year Award" and "Swimsuit Edition" issues), Golf Magazine, Golf.com, SI.com, SI Kids Magazine, SI Video, SI Books, SI Mobile, SI Experiential Marketing, social media, and custom presentations.
In addition to his roles at SI, Jaxheimer also works as a fine art photographer and creative consultant. Recently he helped write, produce, and direct a short brand marketing video for the swimsuit line, Pret-A-Surf.
"In retrospect, art history was a great foundation for my career path, although I didn't realize it at the time," Jaxheimer says. "Understanding composition, symbolism, and visual communication as it relates to a variety of mediums has proven invaluable."
Shortly after graduating from the UO, Jaxheimer landed a sales assistant and art handler position at the Robert Miller Gallery in New York. There, he worked with art by artists such as Arbus, Eggleston, O'Keeffe, Brassai, and Mapplethorp.
"It was as if my class books had come to life in the palms of my hands," he says.
But Jaxheimer wanted more challenge. After picking up a position as a photo editor, he realized he wanted to be laying out page spreads rather than producing photo shoots. At the time he was working for John Brown Publishing, a custom publisher based in London with a small office in New York.
"I communicated my interest in design and they agreed to pay for me to take continuing education classes, which I did two nights a week after work," he says. "While I already understood composition, it was in these classes where I learned the technical skills necessary to be a designer."
Subsequently, Jaxheimer worked three years as an art director for Rolling Stone, followed by three years as an art director at Sports Illustrated.
While Jaxheimer has played a significant role in many branding and creative initiatives at SI, his work for the 2012 swimsuit edition has been particularly satisfactory for him, he says. With his help, SI successfully launched a campaign to promote their new swimsuit tablet apps for the iPad and other devices.
"There are inherent challenges with promoting something you can't actually show the consumer, so it becomes a 'tease' campaign one way or another," he says.
He conceptualized and designed the campaign using the same swimsuit the model wears on the 2012 magazine cover. This bikini was used as a base for the iPad screen, with several more bright swimsuits layered on top that veiled the main image to be launched.
"The final product for print was three ads that ran over the three weeks leading up to the launch, each week revealing a little more of the image on the iPad," he says.
Above: Jaxheimer conceptualized this sequence of three ads.
Aside from his SI projects, Jaxheimer says he is particularly pleased with "La Prochaine Fois," the short video made for Pret-A-Surf in 2011. "We had planned for (and scouted on) a beautiful summer day but were greeted in the morning of the shoot with a heavy mist, forcing us to adapt the entire look and feel on the fly," he says. "What we ended up with was great because we wanted a dream-like vibe anyway, so in a way it was perfect."
To date, "La Prochaine Fois" has received more than 300,000 views, appeared in a number of small festivals, and has received generous feedback from the fashion community.
While Jaxheimer has always primarily been drawn to photography, digital technology sparked his interest in using video as a medium.
"The way in which we view and consume content these days has shifted to be more focused on video than ever before, so this adjustment is also driven by necessity," he says.
In addition to photography, he has begun to produce and direct short films and brand videos. New York presents an endless stream of ideas, he says. "Inspiration comes from all around and can hit at any time – walking around, riding the subway, cooking."
For Jaxheimer, New York has always been home. "No matter where you live, you have to get out every now and then, or you'll lose your mind," Jaxheimer said. "I love living in, leaving, and returning to New York City."