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LESSONS LEARNED + ADVICE

Publication design is definitely one of the most rewarding classes you’ll take at Syracuse so you’ve already made a great decision if you have the fortune of reading this! The skills you are going to learn in this course are super useful for your future, regardless of if you are considering graphic design as a career or not. Here are some things that I believe will help you to get the most out of your experience:

DON’T PROCRASTINATE

Design takes time and thought and is often a process of trial and error. You can’t make effective designs if you wait until the last minute! This is definitely easier said than done, but trust me, you don’t want to be up until 3am the night before class trying to design 4 pages. Not fun! This is a chance to practice some self-discipline and it will help you produce the best designs possible.

OFFICE HOURS/CRIT RECEPTION

Professor Strong is an invaluable resource and a great person too! In-class crits are really helpful but going to office hours will provide additional insight that can help take your designs to the next level. Don’t be shy and make sure to ask questions about the things you are uncertain about. Odds are your first designs aren’t going to be great, and critique is there to help you, not to hurt you. Take in everything you hear and apply it, but don’t be afraid to put your own twist on critique rather than interpreting it verbatim. It’s important to find the balance of listening to others and trusting your own design instincts.

DO SOME RESEARCH

While in-class crits and office hours will help better your work, it’s important to do research on your own time to ensure that your design eye improves. Refer to your field notes’ publication but also to websites like Pinterest, Designspiration, and Behance. Even stuff you see on Instagram can serve as a reference for you. Looking at examples is a great way to find inspiration for your own work and to understand more about what you like. Emulate the things you like, but don’t copy!

LESSONS LEARNED

  1. The importance of a grid. Having a solid grid established makes designing a magazine, or anything for that matter, much easier.
  2. Story selection is key. The stories inform the design so it’s important to know/understand the story before beginning the visual interpretation of it.
  3. Type design is extremely important. When so much of a publication is text, it’s essential to have that text easily readable and visually appealing. You have to think about the leading, tracking, justification, and type design and how they all come together to create a visually appealing piece of copy.
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LESSONS LEARNED & MY ADVICE TO YOU!

Ahoy there designers! Buckle up, you’re in for one heck of a ride. I can honestly say this class was one of the most rewarding courses I’ve taken in my four years at SU. But, I won’t lie to you, it’s a lot of hard work. With that being said, here are some tips for to be successful in this class, and some important lessons I learned along the way.

ADVICE TO FUTURE DESIGNERS

  1. GO TO OFFICE HOURS: I cannot emphasize this enough. Prof. Strong expects a lot from her students, but she gives just as much (if not more) back. Utilize her office hours to ask questions, ask for clarification, get help conceptualizing a story, or just to get feedback on layouts. Getting feedback from her has been integral to my experience in this class, and has helped me grow as a designer.
  2. WORK ON YOUR PUBLICATION EVERY WEEK: I know school is stressful, and there never seems to be enough time in the day for all you have to do. But this class is a marathon, not a sprint. And Prof. Strong, along with everyone else will be able to tell if you slapped something together the night before class. Take the time to work on your publication each week and scrape away at it. It’s also helpful to take time away from it and come back with fresh eyes.
  3. EMBRACE CRITICISM: There will be in-class critiques—a lot of them. This was downright terrifying for me (I don’t take negative feedback well) but I had to get over it, and so will you. In this class your peers are also your co-workers and they want you to succeed and make the best final product as possible. So listen when they make suggestions and comments and take them into account.

TOP LESSONS I LEARNED 

  1. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP: As I’ve said many times already, Prof. Strong is your best resource. But in addition to this, don’t be afraid to ask questions—even if you think they’re dumb—they’re not. Everyone comes into this class with different levels of design experience. As someone who came in with almost none, I needed a lot of extra help, and that’s ok! Asking for help is the only way you’ll learn and improve.
  2. BE PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR PUBLICATION: Prof. Strong will emphasize this a lot in class, and it’s true. You’re going to be spending so much time working on this publication, so you need to love whatever it’s about. One of the reasons I had so much fun making my comedy magazine is because I’m obsessed with all things comedy. If you’re wishy-washy about your publication topic; go back to the drafting board. It’s not worth spending 15 weeks designing something you don’t love. I think this rings true for most things in life as well. If you’re not excited about your work, why do it?
  3. DON’T PIDGEON HOLE YOURSELF: Pretty much all my story ideas changed in some way and my layout ideas were almost all completely different than what I had pictured at the beginning. But they were also all so much better than what I had originally planned out. One of the most important design lessons this class taught me was that good design solves problems. Good design makes reading/consuming/absorbing the information on the page a pleasure. So think of designing your layouts as making it the best experience for your reader and don’t worry as much about not sticking to your original ideas.

GOOD LUCK DESIGNERS, YOU’RE GONNA LOVE THIS CLASS! 

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Lessons Learned | Jacorey Moon

If you want to learn more about design and what it takes to complete a publication layout, then you’re in the right class. This is a great class that prefaces the work and decisions that designers have to make in order to produce meaningful work. Prof. Strong is the perfect person to help you gain some more knowledge and expertise on design. Given that fact, I have a few pieces of advice that I think will help you in this course.

The advice

  1. USE THE GRID-At first, I truly didn’t know what the grid was or how to use it. In fact, I didn’t truly use it to my benefit until the week before the last week of class. The grid is supposed to act as a guide. You should follow this guide because it allows for the text and photos on pages to look organized and uniform.
  2. TIME MANAGEMENT-This class has a lot of homework that will have to be done at home. Prof. Strong typically uses class time as lecture time, so you HAVE TO WORK ON YOUR PROTOTYPE OUTSIDE OF CLASS. You can not do it overnight. It will show and your defense of your prototype choices won’t be as strong.
  3. UNDERSTAND CRITIQUES-This class revolves around critique. So, you have to be able to separate yourself from your work. Prof. Strong and your classmates want your work to be the best that it can be, so take it lightly and adhere to some of the critiques you’ll be given.

What I learned

  1. I learned that critiques are just that, critiques. People aren’t trying to be mean or nasty with their comments, they’re trying to help.
  2. I learned that designers have a hard job. There are a lot of decisions that are made when it comes to a layout design. This isn’t something that’s a one decision and does kind of thing.
  3. Finally, I learned that design is intentional. There has to be a thought process. Also, I learned that InDesign and Photoshop don’t do the designing, we use the software to help with an already formed idea.
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Lessons Learned: Spring 202

If you’re looking to learn more about design and prepare for a career in graphic design or art directing, you’ve made a great choice in taking this course. You’ll go through some growing pains, but you will learn a lot and come out a better designer.

Some Advice:

  • USE. THE. GRID. If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry. Prof. Strong will explain. It will become your best friend, and it will take your designs to another level.
  • Don’t become too attached to a design concept. Sometimes, an idea just doesn’t work, and you have to be able to let it go and move in a different direction.
  • Try things you don’t think will work. Sometimes, they do. The smallest change can bring a whole design together.

What I Learned:

  • I learned to step out of my comfort zone and be more adventurous with my designs. An unexpected color or typeface can add a lot. You don’t always have to play it safe.
  • I learned to work around limitations. My publication was a history magazine, and almost all the photos available were black and white, so I had to find different ways to bring in color.
  • I learned the importance of individual design elements, especially typography. It’s important to familiarize yourself with all the elements and what role they play.
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Lessons Learned

3 Pieces of Advice

The Critiques

One of my biggest pieces of advice is to pay attention to the critiques from Professor Strong and your peers because these will have the biggest impact on the overall outcome of your magazine. For the first few weeks of the semester, I felt very nervous to come to class with my work and present it to everyone in the room. However, I eventually learned that the critiques are essential to the success of my work and I should not take them personally!! There will be days that you will come to class with something that you are extremely proud of, only for the class to point out all of the things they don’t like about it. Do not get discouraged – everyone wants to see each other succeed:) 

 

Photographs

One of the biggest critiques that everyone received throughout the semester was to choose better photographs. I know it may seem hard to find high-quality photographs that do not violate copyright, but I promise you that it is possible. Websites like Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels will become your best friends because they have some very nice photographs that are totally free to use. Professor Strong will also give you a lot more insight on photography and how to choose the best images possible. 

 

It’s a Typeface, Not a Font!

I had always heard these two terms used interchangeably; however, Professor Strong made it very clear that when in doubt, you should call it a typeface. She will provide more context on this about halfway through the semester, but make it a habit to start calling it a typeface now!

 

3 Important Things I Learned

 

The Grid

At the beginning of the semester while reading the previous class’ “Lessons Learned” assignment, I kept reading about the grid. I thought to myself, what is a grid, and why is it so important?! Now that I have completed the course and worked on the grid for 15 weeks straight I understand. I used to use the ruler to make lines for myself and essentially make a grid; however, knowing how to adjust the margins and the gutter on the master page has made the design of my publication so much easier. 

 

Typography

GRA 207 gave me a brief introduction to the complicated world of typography; however, VIS 527 was the deep dive. My favorite lecture was Professor Strong’s presentation on typography styles, weights, and the feelings that different typefaces evoke. I also became much more familiar with kerning and leading – specifically being able to point out when something looks wrong. We interact with advertisements, title sequences, product packaging, etc. every single day of our lives. This class has caused me to pay more attention to these art forms and look at them through a critical lens. It sounds nerdy to put it in writing, but it is actually a really fun activity!!

 

Paragraph Styles

Creating paragraph styles was a hack that I didn’t know I needed. You probably won’t get to this point in your publication until about halfway through, but this will help create cohesion because you can specify the typeface, size, indent width, etc. and then apply it to all of your body copy. You can also create color libraries in which you create a color palette that you can easily use and apply to your entire magazine. 

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Lessons Learned

After a semester in Professor Strong’s publication design, I’ve learned so much about what design means and how easy it can be to become a designer in just a few short months. It was a challenge trying to narrow down the best advice I could give to future students, but here are three:

1. Professor Strong is your greatest and best resource.

I cannot stress this enough: Go to her office hours, ask a million questions, and pick her brain. She’s a design wiz, and always has ideas that can guide you and help you with your publication. Don’t worry about sounding stupid or being confused, because everyone is struggling in their own way with design, too. I always asked her questions during class about my designs and she always gave great feedback which ultimately made my publication SO much better. Her office hours are also a great time to pick her brain and get in-depth feedback. If you can’t make it to her slotted office hours, she’s always willing to extend her hours for students seeking help. She’s eager to help you become the best designer you can be – make use of her knowledge so you can learn!

2. Never skip a class.

When she says each class is valuable, she means it. Each class is packed full of important information and graphic design elements/tools that you need to know in order to really be successful in the class. Sometimes, we would even run out of time for her to finish teaching us all the information. Class time is valuable because her lectures are full of important tips and elements you should know, but it’s also a time to work on your publication with her sitting right there, ready to help. Make use of that! I referred back to my notes so much during the last few weeks of the semester to make sure my design was up to the standards she taught us, and when I was recalling how to do certain graphic design elements. Even though it can seem overwhelming, it’s so helpful.

3. Start earlier, rather than later.

Take every phase assignment seriously, because they are the building blocks to your ever-evolving publication. Even if you end up scrapping the whole magazine and starting over from scratch (like I did… more than halfway through the semester), that practice with InDesign and taking it seriously, making sure you’re handing in an assignment that is truly your best effort, even if it isn’t your best work. It’s so helpful that you practice so that at the end of the semester, you aren’t scrambling to get it all done, because it’s way more work than you think. I switched my entire magazine concept at the end of March when it was due in May and had to start from scratch. Because Professor Strong had prepared me with the foundational skills and elements to include, it was so easy to get back up to speed in less than a week. My advice: spending an hour or two every day tinkering on your publication will be so beneficial in the long run.

Los Angeles Times Field Notes: Color

Like most daily newspapers in America, the Los Angeles Times uses color sparingly. Most of the display and body text is black against the white page, so only the photographs have color. This works well for the Los Angeles Times because the pops of color encourage readers to see the photographs first, or at least second (after the headlines).

On the front page, everything is black and white with color photographs. Having the photographs in color with seemingly no manipulation conveys the Los Angeles Times’ mission of fair and honest journalism. Unlike magazines, newspapers don’t typically stylize photos with color filters because that kind of manipulation goes against photojournalism ethics. This is key for how the paper is perceived by its readership – the more real and natural the photos look, the more the images can be trusted by readers.

The Los Angeles Times does utilize pops of color in the display copy of some sections, as pictured below. This helps distinguish these sections as being different from A1 stories. It also helps give the section a bit more personality. Using red in this “Back story” section gives a sense of urgency. We often see the color red used in breaking news packages online and on TV, which helps communicate that something is important, like a flashing red emergency siren.

It seems The Los Angeles Times only uses black and white photographs when it’s necessary. The image below was naturally black and white, so the newspaper had no choice but to run it as such. The only pop of color on this page is the photograph of the two people below the dominant image.

The rest of the paper follows the same color guidelines, with some of the section fronts getting color treatments. For example, the business section has a green flag background because green is associated with money. The state news section name is orange, perhaps hearkening to the sunny, warm nature of California. The newspaper doesn’t repeat the colors it uses in these section flags.

The most colorful page in The Los Angeles Times, on a regular news day, is the comics page. Half of the spread is in black and white, while the other half is in full color. Having such a bright comics page helps the reader distinguish between serious news and lighthearted comics.

The lack of color throughout this publication gives readers the impression that the content should be taken seriously. In fashion and other design, black and white is often perceived as the height of sophistication. It’s important for newspapers to be taken seriously by the public because if their content is not respected as trustworthy information, the publication’s reputation is at stake.

National Geographic Field Notes: Color

Outside of color images, National Geographic uses only 2 colors: black and a goldenrod yellow. 

Each cover is edged with a yellow frame, which gives the publication a vintage look, draws the eye to it sitting on a shelf, and carries the eye to the cover photo. The yellow frame is an element that is noticed but quickly disappears in lieu of the dynamic cover images.

Headlines, subheads, display text is always black or white, body text is black, and the yellow is used as an accent. Though used sparingly, the yellow adds dimension to the page.

The yellow is also used for color blocking, which adds more to the vintage aesthetic.

Minimal use of color allows National Geographic to highlight profound images without solely relying on the images to provide color. Splashes of yellow draw the eye but to not hold it, allowing the eye to follow the hierarchy naturally.

Sports Illustrated –Color

Main Color Pallets

The main colors used in Sport Illustrated are white and blue. The color white is used as the main background color, where as blue is often used as the color for secondary elements such as section labels and rules.

But after more thorough observation, I find that for certain pages such as the content page, the color scheme is reversed, with blue being the background color and white as the color of the font.

I think the purpose of the editor to do so is to create variety and differentiate the content page from the other section fronts.

The color blue is also used for most headlines, subheads, captions, cutlines and even pull quotes. It stands out from the other elements in every issue and attracts the readers’  attention. 

In addition to white and blue, orange is also a reoccurring color in every issue of the sports illustrated. It doesn’t appear as often as the main colors, but still plays a dominant role. We can see orange in images, cutlines, subheads, names of people who said the pull quotes, and in ads. 

In some cases, orange is used as the theme color of a feature story, which turns blue and white into secondary colors.

I think it is a good and comfortable color choice. Orange and blue are complimentary colors that support each other to draw things to the readers’ attention. They are also good colors for background, as they fit the colors of most sport uniforms. And most importantly, they are light colors that convey energy, strength and movement. A wise choice for a sports magazine.

The New Yorker & Color

While I couldn’t find a complete color palette for the New Yorker online, I looked through multiple issues of the publication and looked for similarities with my own eyes, and found a few. The New Yorker is mainly black and white and text heavy, with the exception of the illustration on the cover and some portrait photographs inside.

However, they use the same bright red and light blue to indicate different headlines, names, sections, etc. throughout the publication.

For example, in the table of contents, the department headings are in bright red and stand out from the rest of the contents listings, drawing the reader’s eye to them, and reoccur in every issue.

 

The New Yorker uses the same red to indicate names on the contributor’s page to make the writers’ names stand out, as well as for subheadings within the comment and reviews section at the beginning of each issue (see below).

They even use the same red in their advertisements to market their subscription programs and archive database.

The publication also uses a light blue to indicate subheadings when previewing events around the city.

In addition, the same red and blue are used throughout the publication in the form of illustrations. Each illustration that is not the standard black and white uses the same light blue and vibrant red. It makes the illustrations stand out against the monochrome text and cartoons/sketches, and brings a cohesive look to a publication that rarely uses colorful photographs and images.

  

Red and blue are an interesting choice, and one I think works well because the New Yorker was created to be the pinnacle of high brow journalism, displaying a lifestyle that Americans aspired to achieve. Red and blue are the staple colors of America, and because this magazine exemplifies every aspect of what it means to be living in this age in America – complete with literary and arts reviews, poetry, and political and pop culture commentary – red and blue are the most fitting colors to be used throughout the publication.