Renee Puno: J School Alum in Southeast Asian Publishing

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Renee Puno, 2012/13 alum from the Philippines, joined the ArtPostAsia publishing team upon concluding her career program studies in Florence. In this interview she highlights her career path and her involvement in contemporary lifestyle publications focused on Southeast Asia.

Renee, you recently started working for the publisher ArtPostAsia. Tell us about the company and the products that it publishes.

ArtPostAsia is a publishing and design group that produces beautifully photographed and illustrated books with compelling narratives on curated museum collections, art exhibitions, cultural and living traditions, cuisine, design, and contemporary lifestyles in Southeast Asia. Among ArtPostAsia’s titles on Philippine Heritage are publications focusing on landscapes and cultural landmarks, world heritage sites, coffee culture, to name a few. Our company has been recognized internationally, specifically:

  • Foodlore and Flavors - Inside the Southeast Asian Kitchen: Prize Winner of a World Gourmand Cookbook Award 2007, Best Asian Cookbook category at London Bookfair.
  • Lopez Memorial Museum and Library's 50th Anniversary Publication, Unfolding: Half a Century: Merit Award from the International Association of Business Communicators' Philippine Quill Awards.
  • Flora Filipina: From Acapulco to Manila: Excellence Awards from the Asian Publication Awards in the Content Generation category for the Southeast Asian region.
  • An Invitation to Malacañan: Best Entertainment Cookbook in the Philippines from World Gourmand Cookbook Award 2010.

We basically provide end-to-end solutions (from conceptualization, to design, to editing, to printing, to launching to distribution, etc.) in creating coffee table books that center on history, art, design, and culture. We also publish books for companies and families that may be celebrating major milestones and events.

What does your specific role cover within the company?

My official title is Associate Editor and Publications Management Officer. I basically handle the book projects and coordinate with the clients, writers, photographers, printers, and everyone involved in the project, as well as manage all the publication materials and schedules involved in book development. I also do research and editing tasks as required and perform proofing and press checks during printing. Planning and attending book launches are also part of my job description.

What projects are you working on this year?

We just wrapped up a couple of books in the past month or so - one about Philippine orchids, another about Ann Pamintuan, a well-known artist who creates furniture and sculptures from metal, and another about a family. Currently, I’m working on a book that details the history and accomplishments of the Filipino company DMCI for its 60th anniversary, as well as another family book. I'm excited however because we've got a couple of art and culture-heavy books underway that will allow me to explore the society and traditions of a neighboring country, as well as that of the Philippines.

How have your previous publishing studies at FUA assisted with your transition to the professional industry? Are there any skill sets that you are employing on a daily basis?

My publishing studies at FUA have helped tremendously. Before starting my post-grad studies at FUA, I had been part of the working force for about 5 years. I was mostly doing writing work for magazines, newspapers and websites though, so that side of the publishing process was the only one I was really familiar with. The FUA coursework helped me discover and understand the entire process of bookmaking and publishing, and I find that I consistently use the things that I’ve learned from every subject. The photography classes allowed me to develop a keen eye and to learn how to edit. This is helping me now when I select and shortlist photos for our publications, or when I have to edit them myself for our book launches. The graphic design class allowed me to understand design and get familiar with programs we commonly use at the office. The writing class allowed me to sharpen my writing skills and push the boundaries of my writing to new milestones. The PR, Communication, and Marketing in Publishing class taught me how to create more comprehensive press kits and how to plan book launches and events, something I have to do quite often now. The Professional Book Production class broke down the basics of publishing and provided a better understanding and appreciation for the history of my current profession. The Lifestyle Magazine classes allowed me to experience firsthand the task of putting together a publication from scratch, which really encapsulates everything I do now.

How have your perspectives of the publishing world changed since your studies in Florence?

Before Florence, I never really thought about the publishing world except for the part I was involved in, which was writing and creating output. My course made me understand every aspect of the publishing process and provided me with a holistic, well-rounded understanding of the industry.

What are your long-term goals?

I have and will always be connected to the publishing industry, albeit through its different facets. I plan to continue to work and grow in this industry. Studying in Florence has reawakened and expanded my love for books and I plan to nurture this particular love affair of mine. I believe in what I do and believe that what we create adds beauty, truth, and goodness into the world, and, essentially, makes it a better place. That in itself is enough to dedicate a life to.

Advice for current and future publishing students in terms of studying and living in Florence?

Be a sponge. Soak everything in. Don't take anything for granted. Do well in your classes and strive to learn, both in the classroom and outside of it; explore not just your surroundings, but also this version of yourself that exists in the Florentine city that is fortunately your current playground. Be passionate about growing, searching, discovering. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes (you can be a tad reckless if you have to be), but do learn from them when you make them. Everything you do and live through while on your study abroad journey will be useful to you in the future, and will shape who you will become, and who you’d like to become.

Find out more about ArtPostAsia at

Photo courtesy of the interviewee. 



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