what does a book designer do, anyway?

Of all the jobs I’ve done over the years, I thought telling people I was a book designer was pretty straightforward, like saying I was a cab driver or a hair stylist. Everybody would know what that was. Turns out that’s not the case. Some people say: Oh, you design the book cover. Sometimes, I [...]

seven housekeeping tips for a smoother workflow

In a previous post I wrote about stumbling blocks to watch out for in your workflow. Today I want to write from the positive side: what you can do to make your workflow go more smoothly with less wasted effort and, most importantly, less chance of making silly errors. 1. Use styles. Styles have been [...]

reading a book like a designer – part 2

This is an update of a post from 08 October 2009. In part 1 of this post, I used Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit as a model for looking at a book through designer eyes, identifying and articulating the various graphic elements that combine to create the reader’s experience of the content. Despite identifying [...]

reading a book like a designer – part 1

This is an update of a post from 01 October 2009. Of course, we book designers read books like regular people. But, when we are in “design mode”, we look at a book in a different way. We’re not so much interested in specific content as we are in identifying how many different elements of [...]

five workflow stumbling blocks and how to avoid them

This is an update to a post originally published in March, 2010. Book design and production is a complicated process with a lot of moving parts: text and graphics, multiple people, as well as a fair share of technology gremlins. Some glitches are bound to arise, but many are predictable and thus can be avoided—or [...]

10 books to inspire you to make art

When I finish a long project I don’t actually collapse but rather wander around in a state of unfocused activity. When that happened yesterday I decided to settle down and read. Not knowing exactly what I wanted to read, I pulled a slew of books off my bookshelves. And because I love sorting things into [...]

it’s messy, this creative process

Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been working on a personal book project that I’m referring to as my 2011 Inspiration Book. Over the years I have developed pages of material based on various strategic planning systems: year end summaries, goal setting, etc. They have always been written as a business document in Word, printed out on 8.5×11-inch [...]

ode to book-as-object

I recently completed a book design project: the life story of a colleague’s mother. [Let’s call her Miriam.] The manuscript had been in process for many months; Miriam had seen it on numerous occasions. As the book design and layout progressed, I created .pdf files as review copies for my colleague. Some of these were [...]

personal+history: ted grant and the art of observation

When you write the history of Canada in the 60s, it will be written with Ted Grant photographs. — Joan Schwartz of Queen’s’ University. I was recently at a screening of The Art of Observation, a documentary on the life and work of Ted Grant, known at the father of Canadian photojournalism.  It was written, [...]

how “real” women make books

This is how books have been made since the time of Gutenberg in the mid-15th century. And, despite the changing equipment to execute the various steps, the same tasks need to be accomplished: text and images transferred in some way to the page, signatures bound and trimmed, covers attached. This is why I consider e-books [...]