Category Archives: Print Design

Two weeks ago I began an internship at August Home Publishing. I think I’ve learned more about layout and design in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years. Doug Appleby is the Assistant Art Director for Workbench magazine. He is the greatest designer I’ve ever worked with and for. He always knows how to push me to do more with my design, and his ideas never fail to work. Although, unlike professors I’ve had, he doesn’t tell me exactly what to change, he inspires me to see what I do and don’t like and we end up agreeing on what should be changed. Check out his website. He has some great photography.

Workbench magazine is one of five that August Home publishes. It is the only magazine that was not started by August Home, but was bought a few years ago. It is the only one of the woodworking magazines they publish that is changing their target audience to the 25-40, male AND female crowd.

Workbench is different now, because its look and feel is very similar to what you see on TLC. Before this switch in audiences, something like putting type on a vertical path or something on an angle would set people on edge… and I’ve heard that it sometimes still does. But to design for Workbench is to really understand the audience of younger male/females.

Something besides all horizontal text, white-bread photography and cluttered pages is needed to reach this audience. So, white-space, unique info-graphics, and innovative spreads are my best friend this Summer. My job is to redesign about fifteen articles that have been previously published in the past 4-5 years. These will be in a new book coming out in January of home-improvement articles about home storage. I’ve got two articles 90% done.

The design process at Workbench is a push and pull to go further with design and really get in touch with the audience, and also uphold the tradition of the magazines at August Home Publishing. I can’t wait for my first layout meeting with the art directors and the company president. It shall be interesting.

Oh, I also met Senator Obama two days ago. I shook his hand-how cool is that?!?! Check out my photo album from the Obama Rally!

I found this article by Andy Rutledge to be very interesting. He believes Poynter is doing the public a disservice by putting out studies on the eye movement of people who read things on the web or in print (the study is here). Now, I’ve always found information about the typical eye movement of people to be interesting, but nothing more. In high school, I learned people view a website in a Z pattern, starting in the top left and ending in the bottom right. I used this rule of thumb to design many websites that ended up all looking alike and were really boring. But since I’ve been in college, I’ve thrown the silly “eye-movment” rules out the window. It has never informed me on how to design something. Why? Because the designer can control the reader’s eye with design principles and elements.

I find it interesting that a school for journalists is studying eye movement of web and print readers. Designers have total control over the movement of the eye with the design principles they employ, so studying eye movement should be done case by case and not by journalists. This is like a school of graphic designers putting a study on how to write for newspapers or for the web. It just shouldn’t be done

Poynter has consistantly put out studies on the the eye-movement of readers, giving specific conclusions about their data. How useful are their conclusions? Andy Rutledge would say they aren’t very useful at all because an eye-tracking test can’t be applied to every publication or website. The reader who they tested on a certain newspaper might have been interested in the article, therefore read more of it. That doesn’t mean everything about that design is great and should be applied to every other aspect of publication design.

My communication friends might not like this quote, but I think, in this case, it is true. Poynter has done a study on something outside the realm of their profession. They are measuring something the designer has the ability to control: eye movement.

They’re making these mistakes, I believe, largely because they’re clearly not designers! The Poynter Institute is “a school for journalists, future journalists and teachers of journalists.” That’s great, but it clearly does not stand them in good stead when they so casually and unwittingly wander into the realm of design.

If you haven’t began to hate me, maybe this next excerpt from Andy Rutledge’s post will make you do so. 🙂

Eye-tracking Myopia

Here are a couple of examples of Poynter’s EyeTrack conclusions. Let’s examine some of their claims from the studies about online readers’ habits.

1. Users spend a good deal of time initially looking at the top left of the page and upper portion of the page before moving down and right-ward.

Not if the designer doesn’t want that to happen. What they’re referring to here are the behaviors of their study subjects when presented with the specific layouts used in the study. Any competent designer can craft a layout and design to elicit any specific entry/focus behavior on the page.

2. Ads perform better in the left hand column over the right column of a page. The right column is treated by users as an “after-thought” area and should be designed with that in mind.

Hogwash. Yes, a designer can make this so, but she can also design the page so that any area of the page allows ads to perform better. This is, in fact, the designer’s responsibility with many projects. The “after thought area” of a page is created by the design—if it is designed to exist at all, and is not always relegated to the right column.

3. Navigation placed at the top of a homepage performed best.

…For the specific designs used in the study, perhaps. But this again is wholly contextual to the design, the content, and the intent of the designer.

This is the sort of pap they would have designers, publishers, and editors believe and invest in. In their current pre-study promo article, they say, “Because the study adheres to the highest research standards, we’ll be able to offer industry leaders scientific accuracy on which to base the editing decisions they make every day.” However, as their conclusions are farcical and myopic, they don’t actually offer much in the way of valuable information. Their definitions of high research standards and scientific accuracy would seem to be unreliable.

So let’s let journalists write and study the effects of writing on readers. Also, let’s let designers design and study of the effects of design on viewers.

My old roommate, Paul, plays every Wednesday at the Salamander Grill. He plays guitar and is in a jazz combo with trumpet, sax, bass, and drums. If the great food at the Salamander doesn’t entice you to go.. then great music should. 

Paul asked me to create a poster to advertise their gig every week. This was a quick and easy 20 minute job.

gumbojazz poster

I continue to do advertisement design for the Adair County Drug Coalition. I got this concept for an ad from the “theantidrug.com”. I really like how impacting the message is.  I used the Wacom Tablet for the marker lines and did all of this in Illustrator

Adair County Drug Coalition Ad

I’m also going to begin designing a billboard for them, while balancing a logo design for a local church and a large print design project for Meadow Heights Church.

All this while taking two studio art classes and working two campus jobs. I love it or I wouldn’t do it.

I’m new to designing ads for newspapers, but not new to designing and laying out newspaper pages. I worked a semester at the Truman Index. I stared at very full newspaper pages with columns and columns of text all the time while trying to fit even more stuff in there. It’s all about how much crap (stories?) you can fit on one page.

So, why not break that rule when making newspaper ads?

  • Newspapers seem to disregard the idea of negative space. So I realized that to make a great ad is to use a lot of negative space.
  • Also, using very large text, larger than the largest headline on the page works well.
  • Scope out the newspaper before designing an ad for it. See how they layout the page, and do the opposite: use negative space, use text on an angle. Why text on an angle? Because no other text on the page will be angled and the eye will be drawn to your ad.
  • If you are lucky enough to have an ad on a page with color, and you know there will already be a lot of color on the page, do this: Make yours black and white… Why? Because there is a lack of color the eye will stop on your ad for “rest”.

Check out Great Newspaper Ads pt. 2 from August 12, 2008

Back to the Future

For me, the design work I’ve done in the past sometimes inspires or informs me about where I should be going with my design in the future. I sometimes look at old artwork or design of mine and wonder how I ever did it because I don’t feel I’m currently creating that great of work.

This is a brochure I did about a design period that sometimes inspires me or gives me ideas for future design. I created this in Viscom I, over a year ago.

The cover art was done by me with inspiration from
the period and the peice in my timeline on the upper left
with the morphing shapes in it (seen below)


inspiration for my brochure. Designed by Armin Hofmann.

It’s been a while…
…since I did a print project. I’ve been so wrapped up with learning more about CSS, website standards and doing digital illustration that I’ve almost forgotten about print design. I kicked back in gear with a project for Meadow Heights’ Worship Concert. Here are a few screen shots from the bulletin which will be 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 when folded.

I’m currently taking Trigonometry and I was surprised to use my knowledge of the unit circle to decide how best to create the radiating circle on the back and the background of the inside. I’m beginning to understand why a liberal arts education is so important… if only to make this one design.


inside of the bulletin

Newspaper Design
Last semester I worked at the Index and did page layout and designed small information graphics. I learned a lot when it came to dealing with a lot of text. The Index put to use the idea of modular design. Modular design is where each story and things related to a story can have a box drawn around it. So you can’t have a story (including related photos) laid out in any shape other than a rectangle or square.

Graphic Design is a much broader spectrum than Newspaper Design. So a lot of times you can recognize the graphic designers that have worked a lot with newspaper, because they start using newspaper-only design rules in their other types of design. For example, using justified text, when left-aligned is much more pleasing to the eye; or being limited to only one typeface because that’s how they did it at the newspaper. It’s ok to use 2 typefaces, and they don’t have to be the same ones for every design.

Here are two frontpages that I did the layout for.

This first page layout is an example of what we would do every week. This time we had a unrelated photo to add, and it usually has a unique title. Well, for filler text I put “Grapes of Wrath” with the tree photo… and the copy-editors liked it and kept it. So, you never know when your spur of the moment thoughts will be worth something.

For this one, I had to come up with a concept to go with the story. I chose to have a photographer shoot a photo of a person laying on the floor with a toe tag on their foot. I then cropped and colorized the photo to look dead. I also had to create a shadow below the foot on the ground because the photo ended.