Neil Gaiman‘s address to the 2012 graduating class of the University of the Arts has been on my mind this week. Perhaps the most quoted section of the address is this:
Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do
I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.
Make it on the good days too.
but there are lots of other good bits listen to them all in the video below.
I have a couple of photography related book projects that should see the light of day by the end of the year and need to prepare the files for printing. To that end over the last week I’ve started aggregating the materials that I’ll need to start teaching myself the rudiments of InDesign. Now I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and stalling beginning the learning process.
I love books, so much so that my kids have asked me on more than one occasion whether I’m going to open a library, and being in a position to make my own is an amazing opportunity. But here’s the thing, I’ve spent a long time learning how to make my camera do what I want it to do which meant a long period of knowing what it was that I liked but not being able to get there – the Ira Glass video above is an apt description of this gap.
Does this apply to book design? Certainly, there are lots of tiny decisions that have to be made from small typographic questions such as whether or not to use ‘&’ in the title and what font to use to larger layout questions. Without getting these right the result will be jarring even if you couldn’t quite put your finger on what the problem is. Your work will suffer by how it’s presented.
While the answer of course is to make lots of books and test them in a safe environment, what to do for projects where you don’t have the time for those cycles of improvement?
I’m tempted to look for a book designer that I can work with to help me bring my first projects to life while I learn the rudiments of the software and the design process so that the books that I make present my work in the strongest way possible. What would you do?