Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Having Way Too Much Fun by Design

I love to learn. Almost any subject will do, too. For years after I got my college degree I found reasons to take courses in a variety of art subjects. In fact, when I took stained glass I got so hooked on the beauty of colored, textured glass, that I made it into a business for a few years. But that's another story.

A couple of weeks ago I took a basic course on InDesign, Adobe's desktop publishing program. InDesign is part of the Creative Suite that includes Photoshop and other fun stuff. I took the course because of my foray into publishing, and wanting to learn all the nitty gritty details that make a book something to be proud of. When I decided to start publishing, I was determined that any book that comes from The Silloway Press will be well written, and professionally designed, edited, and printed so that it will stand up against anything that Random House or Houghton Mifflin might publish. The hitch, of course, is that there are hundreds of years of knowledge and tradition in printing, and figuring out the most important things to learn is tough when you don't know enough to know what you don't know...y'know?

How a book looks on the inside is, I think, the third most important factor in its success, right after the title and cover design. (Yes, I know good marketing is essential, but I'm talking about the book itself here.) If you pick up a book and open it, your eyes need to feel comfortable with the margins, the font style, the size of the text, how the pages are numbered, and all the other things you don't even notice specifically but that create a positive or negative emotion. And all that designing is one of the many things you can do with InDesign. Even if I don't end up doing the book design, I wanted to understand what's involved.

Well, the course was exactly what I wanted. We had a small group and a terrific teacher - Chrissy Waldron - and the hours of the two days were packed with useful learning. I was exhausted at the end and absolutely couldn't wait to play some more. When the second level course runs later this summer, I'll be there.

Now, of course, my dilemma is that I have a new toy and want to play. But I also want to have hours to bill at the end of the month, so I'm having to control my desire to poke around and try all the cool tools in the program. Designing a marketing postcard for Real Estate the Rome Way was a good excuse to get in there and see how much I remembered.

A couple of days later I designed business cards for the publishing company for more practice...what do you think?


Mary said...

Hi Peg!

I want to play InDesign, too :o) This is the type of work I'd love.

I like your calling card as much as I like your name. Peg Silloway has a nice sound to it. And I like what you do. Visual artist, is what you are and an incredibly good writer. What about your own book, Peg?

Keeping working and playing.


Peg Silloway said...

Thanks for the kind words, Mary. Coming from such a talented photographer and prolific blogger, that's high praise.

Of course I have books to write, and all I need is an entire other lifetime! You should be putting together your own book of backyard bird and nature photography secrets. You have a great eye for a good photo. With hummingbirds and amorous toads you'd have a sure winner!

All we need is more time, right?
Hugs for you, too.