Advice to the next class

Hey new students! You’re about to have the best semester of your college career! This is my favorite class that I’ve taken in Newhouse, and the one I’ve learned the most from. But it’s not easy—it’s a lot of work, but the work is fun and rewarding.

Some tips to get you through it:

1. Start assignments as soon as you get them. I’m not a procrastinator, but I still found myself wishing I had started some assignments earlier. Design takes a lot longer than you think it will!

2. Don’t settle on your first design. Even though it seems like the design you’ve done is working, there’s probably an even better solution. Find it, you won’t regret it!

3. Design a prototype you know you’ll have plenty of photos for. Nothing’s worse than picking a great magazine to design and then realizing it’s too hard to find good photos for it!

Other things I learned

1. Claudia Strong is an angel, and professors can teach you all about life outside of class as well as in school.

2. Design isn’t easy.

3. While some elements of design are subjective, most are not. Some things either work or they don’t, and are not dependent on personal preferences.

Good luck and have fun!!!


Advice to the next class

Hello to the next generation of publication design class. You’re in for an adventurous ride, and by adventurous I mean don’t be afraid to explore, and that’s the first advice i’m going to give.


1. Don’t be afraid to explore. Try the most bizarre idea you got, because you might end up having one of the best design you’ve ever made.

2. Don’t wait till last minute. Design is time-consuming. You can’t get it done within the first try. You have to re-design till your work shout out, “holla look who’s a graphic designer now.”

3. The first design is never the one, no matter how great you think it is. Change is inevitable, just like life, so is in design.

Other things I learned

1. Publication design is more than just putting photos and texts together. A lot of considerations must be made for a sophisticated design. It’s all about the layouts, typography, spacings, colors and so much more that you’ll get to learn in the forthcoming semester.

2. There’s a lot of consideration going on for designing a publication. There are many factors to think about—not in terms of just the layouts and all, but also about branding and how to sell the piece.

3. Publication design lessons can be used in real life. Time management, trial and improvement and never give up.

Enjoy the class! It will be a rollercoaster ride, but you will have your own book or magazine printed out and hold on at the end. And let me tell you, that feeling is beyond satisfying!


Advice to the next class

Welcome to the best class that you will ever take at Newhouse. Publication Design is one of those classes that will push you beyond your limits and make you think. Here’s a list of recommended things you’ll need to survive this class:

  1. 1. Coffee
  2. 2. Coffee
  3. 3. Coffee
  4. 4. and more COFFEE!!!!

But don’t over do it because sleeping is important too. To help out the next generation of Publication Design students, I’ve listed some advice and lessons that they should take into consideration.

1. Experiment, experiment and experiment some more. Don’t be afraid or lazy to experiment with different designs. Having one solid design is not always a good thing especially when you get ready to design the layouts for your magazine, book, or newspaper. Sketch out 10 or more designs, so that you have that variety, and you’re not just settling for whatever comes to your mind first.

2. Ask for help. If you have questions about a particular issue you’re having, don’t be afraid to talk to Professor Strong. She loves it when students ask her questions. That’s one thing that I wish that I would have done more because the advice that she will give you will benefit a lot. When I asked her for help with my book, the advice Professor Strong gave me helped the development of my book. So please ask her QUESTIONS!!!

3. Office hours. Make use of her office hours. Meeting with Professor Strong during her office hours is the best decision you’ll ever make. If I didn’t meet with Professor Strong during her office hours, I don’t know if my book would have looked as great as it does now.

Other things I learned

1. Don’t settle for less.

2. Time management is critical when it comes to this class, so DON’T PROCRASTINATE!!!

3. Simplicity can be your friend if you let it.


Advice to the next class

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.

1. 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.

2. 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?”

3. 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.

Other things I learned

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 tip: Never call a typeface a font in front of Professor Strong. Ever.


Advice to the next class

Grab yourself a cup of coffee because you’re going to need it! This class is a lot of work, but I promise it’s worth it. Below, I’ve listed three pieces of advice as well as the top three most important things I learned this semester.

1. Everything on the page must have a purpose. Nothing is random when it comes to publication design. Think about every element and how it relates to your editorial content, target audience and overall mission. If Professor Strong asks you about an element on the page, such as a caption or a logo, be ready with an explanation.

2. Don’t settle for your first idea. It might be tempting to wait until the last minute to complete an assignment, but if you can, try not to. When you’re rushing, you’re most likely to go with your first idea, which is probably not your best. Give yourself time to plan and play with multiple ideas. Create and save different versions of the same spread or poster page. Then, compare them side by side. If you have the money in your account, print them out!

3. Print your magazine multiple times. As I mentioned in the previous blurb, if you have the money, print your magazine multiple times throughout the semester. This will really help you in the long run. You don’t want any surprises when you print out your final portfolio. Soon enough, you’ll learn that the colors on your screen do not always look as well in print. So, do yourself a favor and print out multiple versions to test color combinations.

Other things I learned

1. Publication design involves a lot of planning.

2. Typefaces can help to convey a certain mood or tone.

3. There are multiple elements that help to create hierarchy, such as size, color, and weight.


Advice to the next class

So you made the decision to take this class. Oh, what a semester you’ve got ahead of you! But don’t be alarmed, it’ll all be worth it in the end, promise. Here are some major keys and advice I have for surviving this class and this semester:

1. Solidify your topic. Make sure you know what you want to do from the beginning, otherwise you’ll be changing your editorial concept each assignment check-in, or even second-guessing your work. Thoroughly think through your editorial concept because it sets the tone for the rest of the semester.

2. Go to office hours. Whether you don’t know what color to use or have no idea what you’re doing, talking it out with Prof. Strong will definitely help. She’ll steer you in the right direction, and give you encouragement.

3. Don’t underestimate the work that goes into this class. If you have design experience or not, there will be challenging times, but work through it, trust your gut and continue learning what makes good design

Other things I learned

1. Work little by little, not all at one time.

2. Continuously ask for feedback of your work.

3. Always be thinking about consistency and cohesiveness.



Advice to the next class

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.

4. Images can make or break your design. Finding photos is going to be a lot harder than you think. Yes, your images can just be representative of your content rather than being the real thing, but it’s already difficult to find images that are worthy of being used in a publication, let alone ones that are representative of your content. Make sure you don’t rush and settle for the first images you see, because there’s a good chance you’ll be told it’s not worthy of being in a publication. Once that happens, you’ll have to start over and all the time you spent designing with the terrible photo will have been for nothing.

5. Most photographers are willing to let you use their work for class projects if you ask them nicely and timely. I wanted to contact two photographers I had been following on Flickr for a long time – they had the kind of photos I wanted. I was pretty sure that they would either get annoyed or never get back to me. However, when I emailed them they replied immediately and also sent me high resolution photos.

6. Plan and organize: Design is creative work but it requires planning and organization. Sketching the idea and then having all your content – text and pictures in hand saves tons of time. Keeping files organized and correctly labeled also saves a lot of time and energy.

7. Always show your drafts to Professor Strong. As a very experienced and successful designer, Prof. Strong will be able to point out areas you can improve on. Her keen eye will notice things that you would have never even thought of. She is always available to help you and this will help you create the best publication possible in the end. It will also save you from thinking you’re entirely finished and you really have SO much more left to do.

8. Do your field notes right away. As a college student, you’ll be tempted to do all your homework on a Sunday night and if you do, you’ll already have missed the deadline for your field notes. The easiest way to make sure you never forget to do them is to do the same day as your class. This way when the weekend comes, you don’t have to worry about it. [Note from Prof. Strong: This year, the field notes are due on Mondays, but her suggestion to do them the day they’re assigned is still a good one.]

9. Work a little bit each time you get feedback. I would suggest that every time you gain feedback from the professor and from classmates, write it all down and that same week, try and find some time to apply that feedback. Don’t wait until the last minute when each assignment is due to make your changes and see if they work because you will lose more time in the end trying to make everything fit together and look good. Also, as the semester starts to come to a close, you will have most of your changes applied and you won’t have to spend 24 hours in the lab at the last minute.

Other things I learned

1. Designs are only as good as your story ideas. The biggest thing that was ingrained in my head is that the best designs are rooted is the best ideas. I already kind of knew this, but never fully understood it until now. If your story idea has been done before or doesn’t take a new angle/approach to something that has already been done before, then your design is most certainly going to reflect that. For the most original designs, come up with the most original story ideas. Know the type of audience you’ve chosen for your prototype, and go from there.

2. 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.

3. Precision is key. This is a design class. Attention to detail is highly important. This means you need to use the grid, zoom in to align elements perfectly, and take your time. Don’t stretch photos, and always make sure that they’re proportionate. It may seem nit-picky, but that’s the point. Designing is all about communicating a story or message, but without the focus on technical details and precision, it falls apart.

4. 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.

5. Content is not just text: Most of us assume that content is just text and that text is the most important part of a publication or a newspaper. No one can deny the importance of text, however, from the time when we don’t even know how to read, we are drawn by the images in books and magazines. Even as adults, it’s images and other design elements which draw us in a story. In other words, it’s like the first door through which we enter the story. While designing this magazine, I realized how important it is for a publication to have good images which are appropriate to the accompanying text. Really good photos which badly represent the topic can misguide the reader. Similarly, you might have an amazing story, but if it is not designed in a way which makes it readable, no one would read it. In short, content makes or breaks a publication but it is a complete package of text and visual elements which works together.

6. Knowing the software or tools is not design: Knowing the software doesn’t make you a designer any more than having a good camera makes you a good photographer or having a stove makes you a great cook. Tools are here to help, but design principles have been there even before the software was developed. I have been using Photoshop for a long time, and I was able to put elements together using the tools. Was it design or was it any good? I don’t believe so. After coming to Newhouse, I realized how important it is to know basic design principles, having a good eye, looking around and taking inspiration from other designers and publications and getting feedback from mentors.

7. Publications depend on design. Until this class, I thought the art department wasn’t that important. Now, I see how much influence they have over the magazine. Without design, a magazine would be cluttered and crowded and make no sense. Design helps set hierarchy, organize everything and make a magazine unique. I now have a lot more respect for designers.

8. Sketch first, design later. It’s pretty hard to start designing with InDesign right away if you don’t first have an idea in your head. Take the time to brainstorm what you’re going to do, sketch the layout, find the images you’re going to use, write the display text, and be intentional about everything. Then, once you open InDesign, you won’t be staring at a blank screen trying to come up with ideas.

9. Take a step further. It didn’t matter that I would just complete the requirements of the assignments if my work was mediocre. Don’t just do what you’re asked, but do more. Push yourself to work hard because the effort is shown and you will be rewarded. Don’t hold yourself back because something won’t come out right or you don’t know how to do some things. Ask for help, look up tutorials, and try your best to get the best results possible.

10. Good design doesn’t happen by accident. I learned to be purposeful in my design. For example, taking into account how the tone and content of my magazine should influence my design, not just laying things out in a way that looks good. I learned to put thought into the tiniest details, like the weight of a rule, or the opacity of a box. All of the details should come together for a cohesive design, and all of the pages should come together for a cohesive magazine. Just because each spread looks good by itself, doesn’t mean that they look good together or that they represent the brand of my magazine well. I learned that there’s a lot more that goes into a final product than one would think. Nothing happens by accident, the magazines that I flip through have been carefully pored over, pixel by pixel.

Prof. Strong