Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Book authors and blurb copywriters eventually find themselves acting also as "art directors" -- despite seldomly having any formal training in the role. Art direction is a skill in itself, that involves nearly as much human relations tact as it does layout know-how. Writers usually have a good general idea of how their message should come across visually, but it is a graphic artist who actually lays out the design -- whether an advertisement or a book cover. Within reason, the artist should have the last word on graphic appearance. Sparkling as the wording may be, graphics' appearance can make or break your message. When you find a good designer --usually a freelance supplier -- treasure her, and strive for a harmonious working relationship.
As a team, the writer and designer should concentrate on one thing only; focussing the prospect's eye on the two key elements of your ad, cover, or brochure. These are the benefits the buying prospect will get from your message, and what take action to take to get it. Your designer is worth her salt if she helps snag the prospect's attention, and directs his eye to the right place(s) in the layout. Talk over the project. Express your writerly views, by all means -- then leave the designer to create final artwork.
Have her display your copy into at least two design roughs for discussion. For all the need for teamwork, realize that designers each have their own style, which they try to impose on you. That's okay if it agrees with your intentions. If it doesn't, listen to her rationale first, anyway. But you still may need to put your foot down. If rejection is needed, do it calmly; no need for ill-feeling. (Any last-minute "panic" that arises is a sure sign the designer had been brought in far too late, dangerously close to the deadline. Another reason for giving suppliers as much lead-time as possible to perform well.)
Just explain what revisions you have in mind, and ask for another rough. If this second version does not seem acceptable, though, watch out -- it could mean the instructions were not clear enough. Once you both have agreed on the finished product, the designer can create final design for approval and production.

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