The Ghost of Publication Design Past

It’s the beginning of the semester again, you’ve got a clean slate and things have yet to unravel. You’re a little anxious and a little excited, as you should be. Since this class is a combination of hard-working tedium and creative fun, you’ll find yourself somewhere between those two feelings a lot. Here are a couple tips on how to make sure your publication design experience is more enjoyable than not:

  1. Give yourself time. As far as I’m concerned, this is everyone’s biggest problem. You think you have all this time, you prioritize more immediate deadlines, you’re taking it slow, and then BAM. You’re up to your neck in weeks worth of designing that you now have only handfuls of hours to complete. Then, those handfuls of hours will slip through your fingers and you’ll wonder how they bled into an early morning when you’re exhausted and unsure of your work. Lesson learned: this is a horrible feeling and not how you produce quality work. Creativity isn’t immediate and neither is good design. Plus, it’s hard to enjoy designing on a tight deadline, so do yourself a favor and give yourself some time.
  2. Watch and learn (through tutorials!). If you’re like me, who took this class out of interest but with little design experience/technical skills, I suggest you bookmark and other relevant tutorials. Watching those tutorials can feel extracurricular and like more work than you need to do, but learning those skills will allow you to work more efficiently and create the vision that lives inside your head.
  3. Move on. It’s the little things, they always say. That’s especially true for design, which requires a lot of attention to detail, BUT don’t get caught up moving a text box two picas back and forth or getting stuck on the same page layout for too long. Sometimes you’ll try really hard to make something work but the better option might just be to try something new all together. The good thing is, there are endless design solutions, anyway!
  4. Print, print, print. You really can’t tell what your final product is going to look like until you print it. This is when you realize how huge you made that caption or whatever else, and get a better sense of scale and what needs fixing.

In the end, you’ll have spent a lot of time and energy on your final product, so make it something you can be proud of. Frustration is inevitable, but if you make it worth your time, so is satisfaction and all of the other nice emotions. Some lessons you’ll need to learn for yourself, but hopefully these tips will serve as reminders of what you want for your end-of-the-semester self.