Signature Books Hires New Art Director

Salt Lake City—Last month Jason Francis graduated from Weber State University. This month he begins as art director and production manager at Signature Books. “Jason is one of the most gifted graduates ever to come from our design department,” says Professor Larry Clarkson at Weber State. “While going to school, he also worked on the side and built up a lot of experience as a graphic designer off-campus and at the university itself.”

Jason FrancisFor instance, Jason worked as a film stripper at a local newspaper called the Davis County Clipper and now jokes that “not everyone gets to be a stripper for the Clipper.” That was several years ago. At 36 years of age, with a wife and daughter, he has also worked at the Utah Tax Commission archives and eventually became the graphic artist at Weber State Printing Services, a job he enjoyed because he was able to work and continue at school simultaneously.

Jason has lived in Davis County most of his life. He met his wife, Michelle, “at an LDS singles ward and we got married in 1999.” They “love the ocean and visit it as often as possible,” he adds. So why stay in Utah? “We also like Bear Lake,” he says, “and have it as a backup to the ocean when we can’t get there.”

What does he think about Signature Books? “It’s a long way from my Clearfield high school graphic arts class,” he says. “I can’t wait to get started.”

Jason will be getting acclimated over the next six months with help from Connie Disney, who is retiring from Signature after 26 years with the company. “Connie has always been our secret weapon,” says Ron Priddis, managing director. “She adds so much to the books that we’ve always seen her contribution as job insurance for the rest of us. Her designs set our books apart from those of other local publishers.”

Connie Disney hiking at Flaming CliffsConnie was hired at Signature from Sunstone magazine, where she worked for several years after studying at Brigham Young University and developed a reputation as a creative genius who was dedicated to cause célèbres. “Back in those days, production meant laying out the magazine with X-Acto knives and sticky wax and pasting up segments of text columns onto paste-up boards,” she explained. “Production is so much cleaner now than back in the olden days!”

As an example of what Connie has meant to the company, Signature Books won two design awards in 2012 from PubWest, a trade organization that serves the western-states publishers. “Connie is the standard bearer for design trends in Mormon history,” adds Curt Bench of Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City. “Her work has been outstanding.”

Several authors, who have benefited from her talent and experience, said they agree with this sentiment. “Connie’s attention to detail allowed her to transform large chunks of primary source documents from my manuscript into a readable volume,” commented John S. Dinger, whose Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes won Best Book Awards from the John Whitmer Historical Association and Mormon History Association. “My book isn’t the only one she has breathed life into. Everyone will miss her sensitivity and skill,” says Dinger.

Connie plans to spend her retirement catching up with grandchildren and traveling with her husband who has had three books on Italy published by St. Martin’s Press and has a contract for a fourth book. Recently Connie and a friend enjoyed taking a class together on the history of Judaism and she would like to take classes in related topics or even learn what it’s like to be on the other side of the table and pull together an anthology of essays for Signature Books.