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?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Predicted Blizzard Arrived

It happens every year. In spring, just as the daffodils are fading and the tulips are nodding toward the sun, the pink blizzard arrives. It was forecast. We knew it would come. It did not disappoint us.
This year has seen particularly deep drifts among the flower beds with accumulations of up to an inch on the sidewalk. The grass is almost covered, and like the winter white stuff, we track it into the house on our shoes. Every morning we clear the walk and by evening it has drifted over. We stamp our feet and drag our shoes across the door mat trying to dislodge the sticky bits, then give up and just walk in leaving tiny pink puddles behind.

Now there's another forecast: high winds and turbulence. That would be the vacuum cleaner picking up those bits of pink. We don't mind at all.