I had no idea what I was doing when I first tried to design a layout. My design sensibilities were... still are pathetic. I thought Times New Roman was God.


And that's probably the time when I started spending my money on graphic design books. An integral part of this is something called Typography. Uuuuuuuuh. What is typography? Watch this popular Youtube video about it if you haven't:



Yeah.
Typography. Lucky for this generation, thousands upon thousands of font faces are readily available to all of us in a single click. Anyway, that's typography - how you arrange your type not only in an aesthetically pleasing manner, but also in a sensible order that would fit the material at hand.

One of the more interesting thing about Typographers is how they take their stuff very, very seriously. They sure can criticize a font! It all depends on the application of course, whether the font used was too round or too thin, or when it was kerned right and all that jazz.

I was quite amused to hear that just about every designer hated the
Comic Sans font (among others). I sort of recall a funny story back in high school when people really abused that crappy font.


When someone says its a Linotype font, just remember its a machine that produces a "solid line of type".


Another thing I took notice of was European design. Swiss design, to be exact. An integral part of this style is the font known as
"Helvetica". Heard of it? This has been the choice font for every designer, for almost any kind of project, be it a design bible, concert poster, you name it!

The font has a...
legibility to it that has attracted folks for fifty odd years. The only problem is that for all Helvitica's popularity over the past decades, people have come to define "Swiss Design" as freakin' boring. It's too clean, too orderly for some designers.

Other fonts that gained some popularity were the
Univers (45, 55 type) and Akidenz font types. People loved using those too for all kind of stuff. I probably won't go into too much detail about all of this though. I just wanted to give you a very basic idea of what Typography, and what I've encountered so far when reading up about it.


Now, let me discuss in brief, the role of the
Graphic Designer. What does they do, exactly?

Disclaimer:
This article will focus on magazine design, since I mentioned this was something I'm reading about earlier.

The person who runs this gig is usually the Art Director. The Art Director is the guy who manages the overall design department and design of the (in this case) the anthology. He fixes the publication's format, oversees work of other senior and junior designers, and even designs some of the pages himself.


Freelancers are usually hired to support personnel to meet "...excess creative and production needs... Freelancers are hired to do secondary design, while skilled freelance designers are often assigned to work on primary components of a publication." (How to be a Graphics Designer)

The thing to remember when designing is that
Content always dictates Style. According to Chriswell Lappin, art director for Metropolis Magazine, "Content of the story often dictates approach. So the visual look of a section varies from story to story. The rest of the magazine is more standardized."

The goal, according to Lappin, is to help the reader understand the story, thereby making it the
first priority. The voice of the designer would come naturally as you continue to solve these styleproblems.


"When Design Goes Bad", by Simon Young -
Read this article later. Click the pic.



The worse that can happen, according to Nick Bell, Creative Director of Eye Magazine, is when a magazine's content competes with the design of the magazine. "...A magazine is by definition a
collection of different things, so if there is no sense of variety when you flick through it, the design has failed."

Typography is king, and things like color are secondary. It's all about the sense of completeness and coherence that would help keep the pacing just right. From what I've heard, people have done everything to solve this problem. Some have tried injecting fine art techniques in order to establish harmony in the overall design. Some try to take things from real life, and inject it into the design.



Tokion magazine, once an avant-garde fashion magazine, decided to adopt a new "bolder" look. "It's almost as bad as Surface!"

The
conundrum of magazine design is that it's always got to be fresh to look at, and yet thematically similar. Rhonda Rubinstein noted that new content, new interpretations, new collaborations, new structures and new contexts helps do this. It doesn't have to organized too, mind you. Disorganization, according to some designers, are actually quite enjoyable when done right. Area Duplessis puts it simply, "No concept, no real guide, just great intuition."

So how about
magazine covers? How important are they in the design process? Cuz' I've gone through like five redesigns, and nothing seemed to satisfy me. For Arem Duplessis, Art Director for the New York Times Magazine, the cover tells a person whether the magazine is actually worth picking up. But wait, in the world of design, you can have the most beautiful cover ever, but the most disappointing content possible.

If your content sucks, or doesn't have a lot of market appeal, then you should at least, according to Tod Lippy, editor of
Esopus, try to make it attract customers with strong visual design. "That said, the design is never meant to overwhelm or obscure the material it frames." Funny though that I've seen some magazines obscure certain text descriptions...


A very good article too!


So, as one's design techniques grow over time, he or she usually develops tricks to fall back on. Some would smash type toger, some would make a cacophony of upper case letters floating all over a page, others would create little sidebars and stuff to make things a little more interesting.

So anyway, this is the end. I might as well finish with an irrelevant video. Bask in the glory of...


HELVETICA!!



2 comments

  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Check out ICanFreelance.com. There are plenty of china outsourcing for you.

     
  3. Boon Says:
  4. why do you use so many colors to emphasize certain words? They look like links and I want to click on them but they're not clickable, and also - the "Post A Comment" link didn't even look like a link. Looks more like a label.

     
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