Chops brings it in-house this week with a sit down with David Curcurito, creative director and partner of Works Well With Others Design Group, which he runs with his wife, Jessica Musumeci. Curcurito is best known as the long-time creative director of Esquire, where he worked from 2005 until 2016. He’s also served as the CD at The Source Magazine and Complex Magazine.

We’re proud to announce that Curcurito, a graduate of Parsons School of Design, is working on a complete redesign of MM&M. His work will touch all facets of our brand, including the print property, our website and all marketing collateral.

We got Curcurito to park his motorcycle long enough to tell us a bit about himself.

So, what do you do all day?

It depends on the day. If it’s a nice one, I’ll put off work and go for a hike or ride my motorcycle. But I’m usually hustling for work, art directing, designing, writing…repeat. 

How would you describe life as a creative to someone who’s not familiar with your job?

I’m the guy that manipulates your senses with all the little things you never really think about. Color, type, photography, design and composition. 

Did you ever think you’d be doing this? If not, what did you think you’d do?

I knew I would be doing this ever since I was a little boy. I even wrote a paper about it when I was like 10 years old. 

What can you point to in your past and your education that prepared you for this career?

Rejection, starvation, extreme competition, humility, desperation and fear of failure.

Any quirks in your career path? Odd jobs? Bad jobs? Cool jobs?

I was reflecting on this the other day. I’ve had great jobs my whole career. I’ve been in fashion, hip-hop, rock and roll, men’s interest mags, sports, the list continues. The only bad job I really had was six months with American Express…boring. 

What’s the ideal office set up for you to do your best work? Quiet? Music, and if so, what? Open work space or closed door? Home or office?

Quiet and closed door. I’m too distracted. And because I worked in an office my entire career, I’m really into working from home these days. It’s amazing how much more work you can get done. 

Name five things that help you do your job better.

Fear, fear, fear and fear. That’s only four. I forgot fear.

Signature look?

Big and bold with some elegant touches. 

What piece of work/project/campaign/creation are you most proud of?

Esquire Magazine, the entire brand from the television network, clothing line, branded events and so on.

What’s your favorite color right now?

Right now I’m really digging red. It’s my go to. 

Which individual has had the most influence on you as a creative?

Well there are several, actually. My high school art teacher, Mr. Krauss. My first boss in publishing, Frank Devino. David Mays who owned The Source Magazine and David Granger, my editor at Esquire. I called him my enabler. The first two taught me my craft, the second two let me run wild and really explore my creativity. 

Do you create on your own time? If so, what do you do and why?

Not a lot of designing, painting or drawing. I play guitar to get away from the creative stuff I do all day. I have a recording studio so I record music a lot. 

Name a single piece of work, in any medium, that gives you the greatest pleasure.

Brancusi-Bird in Space

Constantin Brancusi [Misc.]
Source: Getty

Name a single piece of work, in any medium, that leaves you thinking, I wish I had done that.

The Tulip Chair by Eero Saarinen for Knoll

Knoll Showroom, Goswell Road, London, Ec1, United Kingdom Architect:  Piero Lissoni 2009 Piero Lissoni'S Knoll Showroom In London, Window Display
Source: Getty

Name a single work, in any medium, that leaves you wondering, How the hell did they do that?

Eddie Van Halen — Eruption

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

My brain isn’t wired for anything but this. This is the only way I can make a living.

I’d love to do something where I didn’t have to think so hard. Sometimes I fantasize about working in a grocery store again. Like when I was 16. 

How do you recharge?

Motorcycle, exercise, hike, rock climb, guitar, golf, tequilla, scotch…repeat. I make sure I also get 8 hours of sleep every night.  

What’s your happy place?

A sunny day sipping a fine blanco tequila with my wife, laughing our asses off at something only we find funny. 

Speed round:

Pastel or oil? Oil

Sound or vision? Vision

Strings or horns? Strings

Clear or cluttered? Clear

Morning or night? Morning, for sure

Design school or liberal arts? Design school, but make sure you have some talent or you’re in for a rude awakening.