Sunday, 6 December 2009

Diary of a designer's dog 4

Christmas is coming…

This is my second Christmas – I like Christmas - lots of walks with the family, both Ned the Designer and Alison the Mosaic Artist take time off and Katy is off school. 

Looking to next year, Ned the Designer already has some exciting projects in place, another Ray Mears book for Christmas 2010 so probably more camping for me - woooohooo!! There are also a couple of projects he is not allowed to talk about yet but as soon as I get more information I will let you know.

He is also looking to develop both of his businesses having gone through the recession this year, to be honest not too sure what a recession is - but it has been on the radio a lot in his studio and you just can't help picking these things up.

For 2h he is looking to increase the number of publishing projects. He wants to design more books, book covers and marketing/promotion for books. Hmmmm - I wonder if this means I will be doing research like for the Ray Mears work. Could be interesting.

He is also looking to build the Big Ideas Collective further along with the rest of the team. BIG does something called creative communications to help their clients develop their businesses. He has been going to loads of meetings recently and there are quite a few things on the job schedule for next year. He has also been working with one of BIG's clients, Our Celebration, to develop a brand for the York Year of Volunteering. To find out more about this click here.

So all that remains is for me to wish you all a really great Christmas and New Year break - and hope you get to go out on lots of walks too.


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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

An interview with Ned by Gary @Bubblecow - part 3

Here is the final part of an interview done for Bubblecow's company newsletter - Bubblecow provides professional editorial services needed to help lift a book to a publishable standard

Can you enlighten us a bit on the technology side?

The technology for design and production has improved out of recognition from when I started. At Sphere all our initial work was traced and all visuals hand painted. Now with the amazing software available a rough can look pretty much like a final cover. A common misunderstanding of the technology is that the software can make everyone a designer. This is not the case, a designer spends four years at college and all their working lives developing their visual creativity and understanding how to get a message across through the combination of type and image. The software, when used right, is just a smart pencil - you still need the ideas and knowledge to communicate. That said, the technology and software means that a designer can be far more picky about the typography and detailling of a project than when the text was cast off to fit a certain page extent. 

The two standard packages are QuarkXpress and Adobe InDesign both of which are very good and produce the files that the printers need for printing. My personal preference is InDesign as there are some very neat tricks when creating long complex books, like auto re-pagination and it is really easy to integrate with Photoshop and Illustrator.

I also work on many international editions that require specific production requirements to make the foreign languages economic to print.  This involves keeping the text as a spot colour so all the images do not have to be re-originated every time the book is reprinted.

Finally, what kind of input do you like from writers?
Enthusiasm and a commercial vision, the writing process is a gruelling one and sometimes it is hard to sustain the energy through to the production and marketing stage. It is important to sustain the creative energy through to the launch and marketing of the printed book. The really successful writers are those who realise that for their book to reach an audience there is a lot of work after the last full stop has been put in place. 

A recent self-publishing venture Benedict's Brother by Tricia Walker, Tricia completed the manuscript and handed over for design and then worked every hour available to market and launch the book and succeeded in securing a launch at a local bookshop and a lot of local press and PR coverage. She sold in excess of 200 books on the launch night itself and has reprinted. I also worked with Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams on their first self-published venture called the Highfield Mole - this sold out and they were subsequently signed up by Chicken House who re-published a revised edition called Tunnels which has gone international selling through Scholastic in the US. They are now three published books into their series. Both of these projects the authors had a very clear idea of the commercial requirements to make their books to compete with all the other books on the book store shelves.

What can they do to make you job easier?
To have a clear idea for who they are writing for - the more specific the more targeted and effective the cover can be. Finally to be willing to step back from their role of writer and to be objective about the possible cover directions. 

Many thanks to BubbleCow for allowing reproduction of this interview

Next post will be more from the Diary of a Designer's Dog

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Sunday, 15 November 2009

Diary of a designer's dog 3

It's been a busy couple of weeks…

Ned the Designer has been really busy - in and out of the studio - working with regular and some new clients including nice people at Hachette marketing. He has had his computer with him so I have had no access to my blog. Still if I can bring more work in for him I will demand my own laptop - then invest in typing lessons!

I have found out more about what he does and what Alison the Mosaic Artist does AND she and Ned the Designer have even worked together. 

Alison the Mosaic Artist has a studio that I am not allowed in - there's lots of broken glass and stuff on the floor and lot's of stuff piled up - and apparently there isn't room for me. Well that's her loss! Every day she disappears with a mug of tea, turns on the radio and makes or breaks tiles and turns them into amazing things. 

Now, I am not bigging her up her because she knows how to open my food. Other people like what she does too. She sells them, has them in exhibitions all over the place and she writes articles and books about mosaic too. 


These are the 2 books which Alison the Mosaic Artist wrote. She designed and made all the pieces then wrote about how to make them. Ned the Designer photographed the step-by-steps and designed the whole book (The display photos were done by Graham Price and Gareth Buddo) and the nice people at Kerswell Books published them. They have sold all over the world and have been translated into different languages. In parts of the world she is known as Alison Hepburnova

Here is one of her exhibition pieces and Ned the Designer has one of these (not this one) up in his studio. He must have moved quick because Alison the Mosaic Artist has pieces in collections and on collaboration pieces all over the world. This was the reaction when they opened the package that went to Australia for the Steve Irwin project by Oz Mosaics.

Finally a little industrial espionage - here are some of the tiles she has been making recently - Alison the Mosaic Artist and I have on big thing in common - we both really like shiny stuff!!

That's it for now - more soon


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Sunday, 1 November 2009

An interview with Ned by Gary @Bubblecow - part 2

Here is the second part of an interview done for Bubblecow's company newsletter - Bubblecow provides professional editorial services needed to help lift a book to a publishable standard

What goes into the final cover design?

For any project - once we have agreed a brief either with the author and/or the publisher I will find out what the budget is available for the cover design and illustration/photography (if needed) and of course the timing for the production schedule. 

The design and production process varies from book to book - each project by the nature of the publishing industry has to have it's own identity - even when it is in a series. I like to work closely with the author and/or publisher to understand the book and to identify its market. This involves conversations, sketches, ideas and concept roughs, it can also involve sourcing illustrators, photographers or picture research. Once these roughs are done and approved by the publisher, author and sometimes by the big book buyers like Smiths the final visual is commissioned and the final print file is prepared.

The process is very similar with the design of an entire book text - it is just the collaboration continues through the whole book at all stages. There also is often a project editor who is working on the text, sourcing a good proofreader and indexer. It is vital that the book goes through the editing process as a fresh set of eyes over the text can help polish the text by ironing out any inconsistencies in content or grammar. It is also vital that the designer and project editor work well together as this makes the overall production process so much better.

The process of turning a manuscript into a book is a creative collaboration which means that everyone needs to communicate with one another to ensure a smooth flow of ideas and workflow.

You have worked on many high profile books. Can you fill us in on the process?

I also have worked with Ray Mears on his six books since 2001. I work closely with the author on the picture selection process and the allocation of image to text. I then design the book for Ray and the publisher's approval. The trick working with Ray is that he is out of the country so much that access to him can be very limited during the design and production process. Over the years we have built an understanding of how to get round this - occasionally getting calls on GPS phone from the Arctic Circle!

On one of the private press projects that is a tribute to Ian Stuart, the first keyboard player with the Rolling Stones, I art directed and designed the entire project including the binding working closely with the publisher. This project took 2 years to produce and sold at £595 per book for an edition of 950 - when the collector is paying over a £1 a page production values are exceedingly high Including six-colour working, sealer coats, leather binding, hand marbled end-papers and a leather bound slip case. The project also included a specially drawn print by Ronnie Wood in a separate portfolio.

Next post will be more from the Diary of a Designer's Dog

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Monday, 26 October 2009

Diary of a designer's dog 2

On social networking 
and other ramblings…

I must admit to being a little overwhelmed with the reaction to my first blog. Being a true net hound I set up a Twitter account to tweet about my blog (@DesignersDog). I have got followers from all over the world including the Kennel Club, Young Kennel Club and Cesar Millan (Ned the Designer always tries to have calm energy - he says!) and many others, not bad for a Dogs Trust mutt from Leeds. 

Of course Ned the Designer is also pleased with my blog as it directed quite a lot of traffic to his website. I have heard of this thing called pay-per-click - but I am not sure if it can be applied in biscuits - negotiations continue.

I tweeted about my blog and loads of my followers read it. Apparently this is called social networking - I suppose being a dog I should have a Digg account - must look into that! 

Other stuff going on - Ned the designer has been out at meetings a lot this week and keeps going to a place called Leeds - not as exciting as my leads, but seems to make him happy. 

Apparently he Ned the Designer is involved with another company as well, a virtual communications agency called The Big Ideas Collective. He works with with 8 other creatives and they all help companies communicate with their customers and generate new business. They do everything from online to print communications - I think I will offer my services as social networking guru - it would seem mean not to! 

I will blog again soon in the meantime - here is an Eddie Izzard clip explaining the difference between cats and dogs - it is Eddie Izzard so be careful when you play it 

Many thanks to all my followers and Mac fans. 

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Saturday, 17 October 2009

An interview with Ned by Gary @Bubblecow - part 1

Here is the first part of an interview done for Bubblecow's company newsletter - Bubblecow provides professional editorial services needed to help lift a book to a publishable standard.

Tell us a bit about you and your company...

I started as a graphic designer at 15 while still at school and was given the opportunity to design the covers for a national puzzle magazine. I got the bug for seeing my work in the shops then and have never lost it. I continued to complete school and then go on to art school where I took my degree in graphic design with specialism of lettering and typography at Exeter College of Art. All through college I took on freelance jobs. After college I moved back to London where I was given my first break by the art director of Sphere Books who took me on as a junior cover designer on the basis of my experience. While at Sphere I designed covers for the Sphere and Abacus imprints for authors including; Danielle Steele, Craig Thomas; John Simpson, Anthony Burgess and Christopher Hope; designed publicity material and exhibition stands for London and Frankfurt Bookfairs. 

When Sphere was taken over by Penguin I was head-hunted by a publishing design agency, Slatter-Anderson to be their senior designer and studio manager. While at Slatter-Anderson I designed covers, promotional POS and exhibitions for some of the major publishers including Century, Hutchinson and Hodder & Stoughton. After about 18 months I decided to leave and work full-time for my own company 2h design. 2h has since designed for many of the major publishers and booksellers including; Transworld, Chatto & Windus, Bodeley Head, Headline, Chapmans, Michael O'Mara, Quarto, Foyles, Waterstones, Hatchards, Orion and Nick Hern Books. In the last 15 years 2h has also expanded into designing entire integrated books for major publishers, private press editions and self-publish projects working from book concept and art direction through to final print ready files including pre-press and production management.

What happens when a publisher approaches you?
I sometimes work from a manuscript, or even before the full manuscript exists, to final print ready book files and others design the cover and the book text, others it is either the book text or the cover. At whatever stage I start work on a project I work on developing the books individual identity. This can involve working with the author or publisher to understand their vision, or negotiating another solution if the author and publisher are going in different directions. 

One of the skills of a designer in the book publishing industry is to understand the production process and to know at what stage you have been brought in. Once this is established it is a case of defining the brief and the scope of what I am doing on the project and away we go. These days I design a minimum of 75 covers a year sometimes many more depending on the number of book texts are scheduled. Around the two major book fairs each year I also do a lot of presentation work for proposed projects this normally includes a cover and two or three spreads to be sold at the various rights meetings that happen at the fairs, if these projects go live I then get involved with designing the entire package.

Next post will be more from the Diary of a Designer's Dog

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Thursday, 8 October 2009

Diary of a designer's dog 1

By way of a general introduction. I am a Mac (not a PC) - some brightspark though this was a good idea to name me after a computer - could have been worse could have been called Dell.  

Ned, the designer, designs these books which are really good to chew, I prefer the paperbacks 'cos the hardbacks are too heavy to carry out into the garden to shred especially the private press editions. Sometimes he does the covers, sometimes he does the whole books and other times he does presentations of books which don't exist yet - no good for me I can't chew these.

Over the summer Ned designed a book with Ray Mears called Northern Wilderness it's about Canada. Not sure if there was any connection but he took Katy and me camping. He took me from my normal warm house to a field where I was expected to sleep in a big plastic bag which was held up with these really tasty things called guy ropes - apparently these are not for chewing either. Honestly, my life is beset with petty rules. 

I wonder if every project he designs will have an effect on my life? 

Apparently he designs for all sorts of people including authors, rock stars, rally drivers, artists, actors and all sorts. He likes working closely with people to get the final books as good as he can and has worked with some people for a very long time so it must be OK. 

Every now and again he goes to work with someone for a few days. Leaving me here with Alison the mosaic artist and Katy - which is also fun - will explain more about them in the future.

All-in-all as a Dog's Trust mutt I seem to have fallen on my feet - more news soon


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