x 3

the magazine of contemporary illustration       { founded 2003 }

About our Founder

Not only is Charles Hively the founder of 3x3, he’s its design director and publisher. Wearing more than one hat is nothing new for Charles. He comes from an advertising agency background, founding two independent advertising agencies that were recognized nationally for their creativity. He rose from a junior art director to creative director working in several national advertising agencies prior to starting his last agency. His over 450 creative awards include a Clio for packaging design, an Effie for an advertising campaign and a One Show Gold Pencil for a collateral design using illustration. In fact all his major awards included the use of illustration. Not surprising since Hively started out as an illustrator.
“I was always drawing something as a kid. For some reason I loved drawing heads or trees. Seeing my interest my parents enrolled me in the ‘Draw Me’ Famous Artists correspondence school while I was in high school. It was great training, each assignment was critiqued and the course structure allowed me to advance at my own pace. I have to admit I never finished the course but by entering their annual shows they did feature my work in a number of their in-house magazine issues which led to a number of freelance assignments.”
“After high school I got this job selling art supplies—it was a great opportunity to meet art directors and designers and eventually led to a full-time job in a television station’s art department. Of course, I didn’t get to do illustration right away, just loads of time cutting mats, processing slides and handsetting type for camera cards. But before I headed off to college my boss gave me an opportunity to do the front cover of the local paper’s CBS Fall Preview section.”
Influenced by the work of Alan Cober, Bernie Fuchs, Franklin McMahon and Mark English, Hively continued to experiment with different mediums. “I’ve tried every medium there is including airbrush—which lasted about a day—but I always come back to pen and ink.” Hoping to continue to work in a television station’s art department Hively approached one that didn’t have an opening but knew that there was one in an advertising agency across the street. Again, no illustration for the first couple of years until the need for a spot illustration came up and Hively jumped at the chance. However suffering from a cold and feeling the effects of a new over-the-counter drug left him convinced his odd-looking drawing would never see the light of day. But as it happened it was a success that led to many more assignments including numerous covers for the local business magazine, advertising, brochures and posters and the press kit cover for the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library.
Not satisfied with just doing the illustration he branched out into designing and copywriting which opened the door for his first venture as an entrepreneur. Still in college he formed his first advertising agency and he and his two partners built an agency that took the town by storm. “I wanted to combine my love for illustration with concept and design—the agency became noted for our stylish advertising. It helped that our clients were all young as they appreciated the fresh thinking.” The agency was well recognized in the local and regional competitions and a chance to work in a larger market prompted Hively to move and join a much bigger agency. He continued to promote the use of illustration, contributing his own work on occasional projects but he also got to work with some of the best illustrators in the country including Seymour Chwast, Ed Sorel, Charles Saxon, The New Yorker cartoonists, Lou Myers and Jean-Michel Folon. “I could ape the style of almost every artist for the comp phase and would sometimes have trouble convincing clients to use the ‘real thing,’ but in most situations I was successful and of course thoroughly enjoyed working with these illustrators.”
Eventually moving to New York his short-term experience as co-publisher at Graphis magazine opened his eyes to a whole new crop of illustrators which led to his formation of 3x3 Magazine in 2003. “I was seeing some very exciting work and felt there wasn’t a single publication that focused itself on illustration, so combining my interests in illustration with my background in design and advertising I decided to venture out and give it my best shot. I felt I knew what an art director would be interested in and how to get them to pick up our magazine, sure it’s been tough convincing them to use more illustration but hey, that’s the fun part.”
Asked if he misses being an illustrator, “Sometimes, sure and maybe one day I’ll come full-circle. Certainly I’m constantly inspired by all the wonderful work that’s out there but for the moment I’m content to sit in the stands and cheer them on.”