Katie Czerwinski: Lessons Learned

Welcome to publication design! The next 15 weeks are going to be filled with hard work, stress, and dozens of drafts, but the rewarding feeling at the end of this class will validate each late night you spend staring at InDesign. Here are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned about publication design as well as some pieces of advice.

Things I’ve learned:

  • Every aspect of design must be intentional. Whether it’s a typeface, an image choice, or even a caption, every single element on a page should contribute to the overall message you’re trying to convey. You might not think something so small would even matter, but it sets a tone and a standard for your readers, so it should match the rest of the magazine and its audience.
  • Consistency is key. Whether you create consistency through typefaces, colors, or even language, consistency is essential in conveying the tone and theme of your publication to your audience. Consider each page on its own and ask yourself, “If I saw this on its own, would I know it’s part of my magazine?”
  • I can be comfortable challenging myself. I registered for this class without really thinking I could pull off designing my own magazine. Here I am, a semester later, and I did it. I pushed my own limits of what I thought was “safe” design and I made it my own. The next time I doubt whether I can accomplish something, I’ll just remind myself that I acted as the entire editorial/design staff for a magazine and managed to pull it off.

Advice to the next class:

  • Always seek out help when you need it. It can be frustrating when you’re stuck on a design that just isn’t working. Professor Strong is there for you in class and during office hours, or even via email, but so are your fellow classmates! Use them to your advantage as a fresh set of eyes and new ideas, and make sure you let them know you’re available to help them, too. One of the best parts of the class is how supportive the environment is and how willing people are to help. Even Pinterest is a great tool for help and design examples when you’re feeling uninspired.
  • You’re going to want to procrastinate. Don’t. For a lot of classes, procrastination works–I would know, since I do it often. That doesn’t work for this class. Each phase requires multiple drafts, numerous re-drafts, and intentional design decisions. The more time you spend on each phase, though, the less time you have to spend scrambling at the end of the semester to finish redesigning spreads.
  • Never settle. You clearly signed up for this class for a reason: you love graphic design. At the end of this class, you have a physical example of your work to show off, so make sure it’s something you’re proud of. Sometimes a simple design works, but challenge yourself to make a design that’s unique to your publication and really speaks to your audience. It’s so rewarding seeing the finished product, especially if you’ve put forth your best effort all semester.
  • Bonus: Never call a typeface a font in front of Professor Strong. Ever.