From Tea and Paste-Ups to Synchronized Text
I started my career as a general studio assistant; I made tea and did basic paste-ups and other entry-level tasks. Over the years, I worked my way up the ladder through various roles in publishing until I became art director at Simon & Schuster UK. From there I have become a freelance designer producing book jackets for some major names in book publishing in the United States and the United Kingdom, such as Wes Craven and Jackie Collins. And, I've used a lot of design software in my day.
In the mid-1980s when I began working in design, desktop publishing was just beginning. With all the technology available today, it is hard to describe how we worked back then—everything was all hand-work with film overlays and paste-up.
At the time of all of this, I was working for the U.K. arm of Macmillan Books in the art department. I was there when the company decided to computerize the art department, and installed Quadra 840 AVs, and design software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and QuarkXPress.
I immediately recognized the breadth of the new possibilities that were available to me. After using QuarkXPress, I realized it was a revolutionary tool that was going to change the way we produced design. I am a fast learner and could see right away a vision of what I wanted to create.
Before desktop publishing, it would take two or three days to turn my concept into something that I could show a client. When I first got my hands on QuarkXPress, I discovered I could turn my concept into reality in a day, without film overlays, paste-up or any of the other mechanical aspects that used to slow me down. With just the click of a button, I could output full-color layouts. I was able to save hours, sometimes days, on each project.
Some Little-Known Tools
Nowadays, I often find myself turning to QuarkXPress 6.5 for a solution no matter what the project. One of my favorite features is the "Books" feature, which enables me to manipulate a large graphics-rich document without creating a gigantic file that's too big to manage. I love how easy it is to print large projects when working with "Books." It's a very simple and easy-to-use feature that's also easy to overlook. Once you discover it, you'll wonder how you got by without it.
As much as I like "Books" for handling big documents, I like "Project Tabs" even more. By combining "Books" with "Project Tabs," it is incredibly easy to manage long, complicated documents.
And I really enjoy the ease of use with the "synchronized text" feature. Last year, I had a brochure and flyer project for which the text would be repurposed for a catalog. If I'd had QuarkXPress 6.5 then, I would have been able to place the same text in several layouts by linking the text boxes to a single file. Then, I could have simultaneously updated all the text, in every layout, with a single mouse click. It would have saved me so much time on that project. (Not to mention the option of working on a Web version of the same catalog and synchronizing revisions to the text for both projects at the same time.)
Technology Keeps Advancing
Over the years, I have stayed abreast of new advances in technology and the trends in publishing applications. I have watched the industry domination of QuarkXPress; I like the fact that there is more competition in the industry today. I think that healthy competition makes companies work harder to produce better software.
There are indeed some great features in other software applications, but you need to be cautious or your job could end up with problems. For instance, in Adobe InDesign, when importing a PhotoShop file with layers and transparencies into the software, if you don't know how to set the file up properly—making your own transparency presets—then complicated files won't output correctly; fine gaps can appear around the image and other output problems can occur. Or the text weight can change unexpectedly.
Some designers and repro-houses will know how to combat these problems, but anyone can be caught unaware. When sending these jobs to press, you have to stay alert as the transparency feature can make it more difficult to get reliable output. Although, the issue regarding transparency in InDesign is largely gone now with InDesign CS 2.
Speed is also a determining factor in my selection of software. If time is critical, then QuarkXPress is my preference. Other applications can make me wait ages for the screen to preview using the default preview; this is something that QuarkXPress handles much more quickly than other applications.
QuarkXPress also can crop images for quicker printing using the new Vistas XTension. But make sure you don't overlook the Web design features; they are a great way to quickly get content online and are surprisingly powerful.
Glen Saville is a freelance designer (www.GlenSaville.com) who has created covers for many books including "Harrison Ford, Imperfect Hero" by Garry Jenkins, "Ozzy Unauthorized" by Sue Crawford, "The Daughters of Cain" by Colin Dexter, and "Lethal Seduction" by Jackie Collins. His career includes stints at Simon & Schuster UK and Macmillan Books.
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