In the absence of a graphic designer on staff…

What I wouldn’t give to have a graphic designer working for me! Over the years, I’ve learned some basics of Photoshop and I use InDesign for newsletter layout, but design and visual work  do not come naturally to me and are very time-consuming. The Bubble Room featured a great post yesterday on Infographics, which seem to be all the rage right now, and for good reason: they are a visually compelling and succinct way to present data, especially to those of us who shrink at too many numbers and graphs. Infographics are like the grown-up version of library dashboards, which were a hot topic about a year ago. A colleague of mine recently took Edward Tufte’s course on presenting data and information and brought back his gorgeous books to show off: Beautiful Evidence, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative, and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. I gather Tufte is sort of a guru of infographics, and I would love to take his course sometime, too. Meanwhile, back in Library Land, I’m grateful for the work of the College’s Communications Division, colleagues in Information Technology with graphic design backgrounds, and student assistants that help me produce the visual work I need in order to publicize the library’s activities. Occasionally, I’ve even been able to contract a local independent graphic designer to design some pieces for us. As we move to an ever-increasingly visual world, what do you do in the absence of a graphic designer on staff? How do you create compelling visual work to catch your users’ attention?

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One response to “In the absence of a graphic designer on staff…

  1. Alan Aitken

    Rebecca — like you I design stuff (posters mostly) but have no design background. Most of my designs have been based on — let’s say ‘repurposing’ — designs which catch my eye which I think I could use in a library context. I usually start with an image (from royalty-free clip art and photo libraries), add my text, pick some typefaces, and then just move them round the page until I like what I see. Or until I can at least put up with what I see. I have even tried reading a book — I find ‘The Non-Designer’s Design Book’ by Robin Williams (no, not *that* Robin Williams) is a very helpful introduction to what to do (and why it works). Also like you I find this stuff very time-consuming — probably because, not having a plan to begin with, I have to go through a lot of drafts before I get something I like. Still, it beats working!

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