Lessons Learned: Gulnaz Khan

Things I learned:

1. Every design element on the page should have a purpose. Prior to taking a design class my reason for putting something on the page was “because it looks pretty” — my first drafts ended up looking a little tacky and overworked because I added “pretty” things indiscriminately. I’ve learned that everything you put on a page should have a reason — whether it’s teaching the reader something, creating hierarchy, or guiding the reader. Now when I consider adding a new element to my design I ask myself what purpose it serves, and this helps me edit myself.

2. Headlines are incredibly important! This is a design class, but writing and design have to work together to tell a story. A clever story headline can really enhance the story — I learned it’s just as important to focus on the writing as the design. Researching your topic and having some content knowledge can help with this.

3. I became more proficient in InDesign and Photoshop. This wasn’t necessarily one of the official course objectives, but it was a personal objective when I started this class. After many hours of practicing and designing, I am much better at executing my ideas.

Advice to future design students:

1. Don’t go for the obvious — think of more creative ways to tell your story. For example, my feature story for my space magazine, Astro, was on colliding galaxies with what scientists call “black hearts.” Instead of using a literal photo of galaxies colliding, I used a photo of black human heart to make the design look more edgy.

2. Edit edit edit and then edit again. It’s good to step back from your design for a few days and look at it with fresh eyes. Each time you go back you’ll see something new and have fresh ideas. Some days when I was woking on my prototype I just wasn’t feeling very creative, and other days the ideas came in waves. This requires advance planning, so my biggest advice is do not wait till last minute to complete your design!

3. Don’t be afraid to be a little whacky. Some of my best design elements came from experimenting with bold fonts and colors that you might not see in traditional magazines. At the end of the semester it’s nice to be able to say there is nothing like your prototype on the newsstands. Be creative, be you, and the results will be fabulous.