I was approached by Dominic Nozahic, an English Literature student at the university, to design the 7th edition of the University of Reading’s Creative Arts Anthology, of which he was part of the editorial team. I arranged it with Paul Luna and Rob Banham so that I could take part in the process. Upon speaking with the two editors in the first official meeting I discovered that they had no clear idea of what they wanted the end result to look like. Fortunately there had been several previous editions that I could refer to and with Paul Luna’s supervision I was confident to begin the initial design process.
This was the first time that I had tackled poetry as a designer using InDesign and although my experience from past editorial projects had given me a great insight into how to approach text I had not specifically looked at setting poetry before. This gave me the opportunity to research past anthologies and poetry collections to explore how book designers had previously taken on the challenge. The content of the anthology was challenging as it varied between poems, plays, prose and photography. The editors had already decided on the sequence of each piece so the order was specific which aided the design process. As well as the content I had to consider the contents, editors preface, biographies and book cover.
I learnt a lot from Paul Luna during the process, his expertise resulted in the process running smoothly. The most significant thing that I learnt during the real job was the use of scripts in design. I discovered early on that the line length of the poems varied very often and as they were centred the indent was constantly different. To get around this issue Paul Luna taught me how to use scripts to override paragraph styles. The use of scripts proved to be vital in the designing of the anthology.
A major decision during the process was the choice of typeface. Because of the nature of the content I decided that I wanted the typography to be elegant and cursive, I also hoped to achieve a light page so required a typeface with contrast and open counters. Paul Luna suggested visiting the MA Typeface Design database to look through type specimens created by previous postgraduates. I also spoke to Gerry Leonidas regarding this matter and he suggested a number of typefaces but warned me that due to contracts some typefaces may not be available. Fortunately the typeface I decided to use was not bound by a contract and the designer was more than willing to contribute to the project. I chose the typeface Chepman, a typeface originally designed for newspapers by Rob McKaughan. The overall style of the anthology derived from the cursive italic version of the typeface, which I used on the front cover and for titles. During the process I discovered that the italic typeface was slightly thin when printed on a laser printer. I contacted Rob McKaughan and he was very helpful in providing a thicker weight.
The production of the anthology was done through DPS as it is every year. I spent a lot of time communicating with Paul Luna when it came to preparing the file for print. This experience gave me a great insight into what a printer needs and expects a designer to do before the file can be sent to print. The end result was beyond my expectations, I was impressed with the finish quality and how well the typeface printed. The editors were also very pleased with the final product and expressed this during the launch event where over 200 copies were sold.
I am very proud of the finished product and it has proven to be an invaluable addition to my portfolio. I am also pleased with the overall process of the project, my communication with the editors was consistent and effective which resulted in a great working relationship. I am also grateful to Paul Luna who shared his wisdom and editorial skills which I absorbed to every extent. I learnt how to work with editors, I understood how to sympathise with their vision and expectation of the result whilst all the while building a good working relationship through effective communication. I also gained an understanding of book production and how to prepare files for print. My InDesign skills also improved and I developed more respect for typographic detail and editorial design, improving skills that I have since applied to other university projects.