January 26, 2007

Day 9 of 90

Posted in Rants, Reading, Work at 12:52 am by India

Hey, remember when your computer had a leetle teeny screen, and all your software used to run slower, and you just couldn’t get as much work done as you do now?

Yeah, so try doing your multifaceted, exciting twenty-first-century job on a 12″ laptop that, despite being totally loaded when you bought it three years ago, is somewhat poky and sluggish when you try to run InDesign and Acrobat Pro and Photoshop and Bridge and Word and Eudora and BBEdit and Linotype Font Explorer and Firefox with at least four windows and sixteen tabs open. It does not make you feel very efficient, let me tell you.
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September 4, 2006

The Other X-Acto and Wax Technique

Posted in books, Design, Rants, Tools at 2:19 pm by India

The other day, Cathi told a tragic story about how

I remember right after my newspaper moved me to a brand new building and informed me I’d have to do layout with an exacto knife and waxer again because they had no Mac for me . . .

And while I’m in awe of Cathi’s skillz, I have to say, when I think “X-Acto and wax,” my associations are quite different.

More than once—more than once, I say!—I have seen type spec’ed in the margin as something like 16pt Akzidenz Grotesk, and I look at this tiny type and think, “Sixteen points, my ass,” and then I click on the line and find that, yeah, it’s sixteen points, with the superior attribute applied to it, so it’s shrunk down. And the designer didn’t even notice that he or she had done it. Or worse, she did notice, but she left it like that saying, “Oh, let the compositor figure out what point size it is.”

And then the same designer will demonstrate to the comp how a blockquote should be formatted by creating a separate text box with a runaround and then dropping that into the middle of a regular paragraph. Apparently because the designer doesn’t know how to set indents. And god forbid she should know what a style sheet is, or a character style. I mean, really—knowing how to use your tools, that’s so . . . working-class. Designers are professionals. Read the rest of this entry »

August 2, 2006

Designers vs. Illustrators (vs. Authors)

Posted in Design, Rants at 7:15 am by India

This is not really my field, as I’m not a cover designer, but the Guardian just posted a rant by an author with the teaser (sorry—there’s a proper term for this in newspaperspeak, isn’t there?), “Now that pixels have replaced pencils the art of drawing has vanished. I’m so exasperated I’m designing my own book cover.” Supposedly, after thirteen rounds of comps and despite specifically requesting a hand-drawn illustration, the author still has only been shown covers using photographs, and she concludes that this is because designers can’t draw.

Give me a fucking break.

As someone has already posted in the comments,

  1. Designers design; they don’t necessarily draw. That elusive artist you’re looking for is called an illustrator.
  2. If the author has been asking for hand-drawn covers and the designers aren’t providing them, after thirteen rounds, it’s the fault not of the designer but of the publisher, who either isn’t
    • stating this preference in the design brief, or
    • providing a budget for an illustration, which is billed separately

The book and publisher are not mentioned by name, but it’s probably The Post-Birthday World, forthcoming from HarperCollins. We’re talking about a design department run by people who create their own fonts. I can’t believe they’d balk at buying or drawing an illustration. There’s clearly some backstory here.

July 3, 2006

InDesign vs. Quark: 4 things

Posted in Design, Rants, Tools at 7:29 pm by India

If you’ve ever sat near me while I’m working in Quark XPress, you know what a charming vocabulary I have. I !@#$% hate Quark. It’s a *$&%@! buggy piece of #*@&!. I may need all the glyphs in the Unicode set to type my distaste for it.

But having glanced for a minute at Layers magazine’s new “InDesign Advantage Center,” I see a solution: I can follow their example and express my displeasure by highlighting a couple of my favorite InDesign features—which, gosh! how shocking!, Quark 6 doesn’t have. I haven’t yet played with Quark 7, but I’ve been reading reviews and think it’s safe to say these are all features it’s still missing. If I’m wrong, feel free to let me know—not that it’ll make me loathe that *&%$# plate of spaghetti code one bit less.

So. Here are the four InDesign features that I miss most in my current workflow:
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April 28, 2006

“Most Designers, Through No Fault of Their Own, Are Illiterate.”

Posted in Design, Editing, Rants, Reading at 1:14 am by India

Or so my class was informed by a very good copyediting instructor, who I’m sure meant no especial disrespect. On some other day, I’d like to address why an editor might get this impression, but for now I’d just like to note that apparently Princeton Architectural Press shares this unflattering view.
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