Warning: Self-Promotion Because My Book is Now Available!

easy graphic design for librarians book coverHello, dear readers! Sorry for the shameless self-promotion, but I had to share the news that my book, Easy Graphic Design for Librarians: From Color to Kerning, is now available for purchase in the ALA Store! That’s right, no more pre-order, it’s available now and you can buy it for yourself or your library. Yay!!! 🙂

Psst…ALA even sent out a press release.  I feel so official now.

I’m obviously excited about this and hope that the book is useful to you and your colleagues who do graphic design work for your library. It was a lot of fun to write and illustrate and I hope you have fun applying some of the tips to your design work.

Definitely exciting news to start the new month and give me some extra energy to keep writing with the start of NaNoWriMo, too.

So, I’m not great at this self-promotion thing, but please buy my book if you think it would be useful for your work and tell your colleagues and friends if you think it they’d be interested. And let’s create some amazing designs for our libraries!

Also, Happy November! Remember to refresh your desktop wallpapers with some of the beautiful, funny, and sweet wallpapers available over at Smashing Magazine. They’re great for design inspiration, too!

Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, and thanks for letting me ramble a bit about my book. I’ll be back to regularly scheduled design notes and tips soon. Allons-y!

Friday Design Fun 5!

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are having a lovely week and have a fun weekend planned. I can hardly believe we are almost to the end of another month. The holiday season will be upon us before we know it. I for one am not ready for that, but I am ready for sharing some design fun with you today. So let’s talk about designing timelines on a tight timeline (ha!) and other bits of design knowledge and fun.

This past weekend was alumni weekend at the university and since it coincided with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the university (and the library and archives had put together an exhibit celebrating our history), I was up in the library on Saturday giving tours and showcasing materials from the archives.

Since I can never pass up a chance to promote the library and archives, especially when it means I can design something for an event, I made a brochure to highlight the exhibit and share ways of learning more about the archives. As we were celebrating the university’s history, I thought a timeline would be a great thing to include in a brochure. With time being scarce–isn’t it always?–I knew I would have to design something simple that would still be visually appealing. So instead of creating a very complicated timeline, with lots of different parts, I created a very simple one with some years highlighted that corresponded to photographs we had digitized from our collections. The result is below:

timeline showing the 60 years of history of Cal State East Bay showing years and photographs of buildings built or dedicated in each year

Alternating years and photographs gives some visual motion to the timeline and not trying to cram every single highlight gives it breathing room. I used dates and photos that corresponded to the body text of the brochure so that it would be a coherent whole. And, although the photographs are of different sizes, I made sure to keep the same baseline (or “top line” for those photos on the bottom of the timeline) to give the timeline a more polished look.

I can happily say that a number of alumni came to the library’s open house and on the tours and liked the brochures. Because, really, who doesn’t love historical photos of their alma mater? And, with not a lot of time and a few key graphic design techniques, I was able to ensure that the archives put its best visual foot forward, too.

With the academic year in full swing, I’m on the lookout for things to keep me inspired as the increase in meetings and fires to put out everyday can zap my energy. So I was excited to see this good article from Smashing Magazine, Stop Designing for Only 85% of Users: Nailing Accessibility in Design. Good tips and great resources. Every design should be accessible. And since fall always makes me want to travel, I had to share this icon set of 60 travel icons.

Plus, simply because these are lovely: Amazing pop-up books, a funny take on graphic designers redesigning state borders from xkcd,  and mini chocolate chip cookie pumpkin cheesecakes from Joy the Baker. Yay for autumnal baking!

I hope you are finding time to create wonderful art and designs. I hope your weekend is full of relaxation, good friends, and good reads. I’ll be back with more news and notes soon. Allons-y!

Friday Design: Redesigning an Instruction Handout

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are well and looking forward to a relaxing, rejuvenating weekend. Today I want to share with you a look at my process for redesigning an instruction handout. As schools are back in session, those of us who teach are probably thinking a lot about handouts so I thought it would be useful to go over some tips and inspiration for redesigning handouts. Also, because the entire Pinterest and Instagram perfect pics of creativity and creative processes don’t do anything but make me feel like I’m not good enough, I wanted to share some parts of what my process looks like when I’m walking the talk of graphic design in libraries.

As with any graphic design project, I start with thinking about what I need to accomplish with the project. In this case, the handout I’m redesigning is for a biology class I’m going into to talk with students about literature searching, source evaluation, and citations. That’s a lot to cover and I know that no one will remember everything we go over. So my handout redesign needs to be comprehensive enough that a student can use it as a reference source when they are working on their assignments later so they aren’t lost. A basic outline isn’t going to cut it.

So, after I’m clear on why I’m designing and who I’m designing for, I move onto brainstorming. And this is where it gets messy and oh-so-not-Instagram-like:

First, rough thumbnails, notes and sketches:

photo of list of pages and thumbnail sketches for redesigned instruction handout another page of thumbnail sketches from redesigned handout

Both of the above images show my messy first sketches and notes about what I want to keep from the old handouts, what I want to add, and how I’m thinking it will fit together on the page based on length of information, context, and layout. I am redesigning the handout so a lot of the information I already have in documents so I don’t need to go as deep as I otherwise would in writing out content at this stage.

Then I move into the digital work after I have my head on straight about why I’m creating this handout and what I want in the handout. For many handouts, I work in Word or Publisher, but I’m trying to get more proficient with InDesign so I decided this was the perfect project to experiment with the program. Overall, it was more fun than frustrating, which I think is a good sign.

image of first page of redesigned handout mockup with scribbled notes for changes

Even after I create the draft handout digitally, I have to print it out in order to revise and markup. I can’t do this on my screen as I miss too much. As you can see from the above image, I have my basic layout completed, but I still have a lot of little things I want to change, correct, and revise to make the final handout better. I’m always thinking about visual impact, conveying my message in the best possible way, and how the information will be received by the students.

final first page of redesigned handout

This is the final, first page of the redesigned handout. It will live in print and online in the students’ Blackboard site, if the professor chooses to post it there (it will also be posted to our library’s LibGuide for biology).

So that’s how I get from messy first drafts to final product. My sketches aren’t Instagram-perfect, but they work for me. And, in the end, I care more about getting my thoughts on paper and getting those thoughts translated into whatever design I’m creating than whether my sketchbooks (when I even manage to do drafts in a sketchbook) are ready to be shown online.

What I hope you’ll take away (in addition to maybe a few ideas for your own handouts), is that your sketches don’t have to be “art” or even understandable to anyone except you. The important thing is that you sketch and get your ideas down on paper so you can create the designs you need to create to solve problems in your library and in the world. Beautiful photos are great, but don’t let them get you down on how your sketchbook or datebook or journal isn’t as organized and perfect. Just create your work how it works for you. Your library and community will thank you.

I hope you have a lovely weekend full of all good things. Our local independent bookstore is having its grand opening this weekend and I couldn’t be more excited for Books on B! I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Designs: Signs, Inspiration, and Randomness

Happy Friday, dear readers! We’ve made it to the end of another week. The fall quarter (our last as a quarter campus) has started and the weather has turned cool (although it looks like we’ll get another heatwave next week), so it’s time to get back into the academic swing of things. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun so I have a few things to get you through to the lovely first weekend of autumn.

First up, a landscape version of the All are Welcome Sign. In order to put these up in our elevators in the library, I had to reconfigure the signs to landscape orientation. In case your library has landscape-oriented sign holders, I thought I’d share this version (click on image to get the printable PDF), too. Please print, use, and share. We could all use some welcome about now.

image of poster reading, there is no space for hate in our library all are welcome we stand in solidarity with all who fight for equity, diversity, and inclusion

I thought most of us would appreciate Lifehacker’s article, the library doesn’t usually want your used books. We’ve all gotten those well-meaning, but not-so-useful donations. And, if you’re not doing a huge project making altered books, it is a great reminder to send would-be donors to other, more receptive places.

I was thinking of what was inspiring me right now to try out new things in my designs and I have to say it is probably snapping more photos (both digital and instax analog) to see what I bits of photos I can use in other projects and what more I could share about graphic design that would be useful to librarian graphic designers. I think a lot about design and sharing so expect some more examples of designs and redesigns soon.

Also, because the weather has finally cooled down here and that means baking time, I had to share this Joy the Baker recipe for brown butter cookies and cream rice krispie treats. I am so excited to try this recipe soon!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of inspiration, relaxation, and fun. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Design Fun

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week has gone well and you have something lovely planned for the weekend. I’m looking forward to finally having a weekend that isn’t abnormally hot for this time of year so I might have the energy to do some design work not related to my library work. It has been a difficult week on so many levels so I thought I’d just share a few fun design things before we run into the weekend.

First, sometimes you just need to have some retro fun and I have to say that this new camera I got totally fits the bill.

photograph of Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 camera

My husband got the above camera for me (Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 90) and I’ve been having a lot of fun taking instant photos. Polaroid-type photos for the win! There is something that’s just a bit wonderful about watching a photo slowly come into view rather than seeing it instantly on my digital camera (not that I’m not a huge fan of digital photos, obviously). It makes taking a photo a bit slower of a process and more of a fun group activity as you huddle around the mini-photo to see what will develop on film.

I’m not sure yet how I want to incorporate this into my design work in the library, but I’ve been thinking about how and when incorporating some more retro styles of design might be useful.

So I hope you have the chance to try something new and maybe a little offbeat that might spark some new creativity over the weekend. You never know what will inspire your next project.

Second, while I’m not a bullet journal person (though my aren’t the photographs of some people’s journals beautiful?), I am a huge believer in keeping paper notebooks, journals, and planners. While my phone is great for reminders, there is nothing to me like writing down plans and ideas in a journal. Below is a photo of my current journal that I use for everything except my yearly planner (which I create every December in a hardcover notebook [yes, I am that kind of person]).

photograph of traveler's notebook

While I’m not an expert in using the Traveler’s Notebook by any stretch, I really do love its flexibility and the ability to decorate all the inserts. It is really useful to my process to have separate notebooks for different projects, but probably the best thing is that I’ve decided I don’t need a beautiful notebook since I’m not on Instagram and can just use it for all my messy, half-formed, thumbnail sketched, odd ideas that may some day come together for something. It is important to give yourself permission to be messy when designing as usually it isn’t that pretty until the end.

Finally, oh my goodness a makecation! This idea of taking a vacation to do craft projects sounds amazing! I totally want to do this and would love to hear about if you’ve ever done a makecation.

So that’s it from here. I need to be off to an all-day faculty retreat in a bit, so I better wrap up this Friday’s post. I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of rest, fun, and creativity. I’ll be back soon with more design notes. Allons-y!

Mid-Week Design Inspiration

Hello, dear readers! I was thinking that we all could use a little mid-week pickup and wanted to share some design inspiration and news as we barrel on towards the middle of September. I hope you and your loved ones are safe, you are able to use your time and skills to help where you can, and you have found ways for using your graphic design skills to help others.

In wonderful library news, my dean approved printing of two large welcome banners. I installed them at both our entrances and wanted to share. I’m rather happy with how they turned out.

Banner saying: this is your library, there is no space for hate, here all are welcome. We stand with all who fight for equity, inclusion, and diversity.

In case you missed it, lovely September desktop wallpapers. There is no time like the present to make your desktop look lovely for autumn. I currently have the cutest desktop of all year with cats and foxes–love having a dual-monitor set-up for this (and the productivity, of course).

Also, who doesn’t get inspired by books? (I mean, that’s kind of a silly question for those of us in libraries.) So I wanted to share this lovely (truly!) list of books on type and lettering from The Well-Appointed Desk.  More to add to my “to read” list.

I recently finished reading (and let’s be honest, drooling) over the beautiful work showcased in Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks. If you haven’t viewed this book yet, I highly recommend it. It is a trove of inspiration for creating beautiful and effective infographics for so many different types of projects. Makes me want to sketch all day and redesign every report we put out for the library.

And finally, although I know we should all be good and eating healthy, sometimes you (okay, I mean “I”) just want a brownie. So I leave you with this amazing recipe from Joy the Baker for Thick S’more Brownies.

I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. You find time and inspiration to use your design skills to welcome and support everyone at your library. And you even find time to have a brownie or two (I won’t tell if you offer to share with me, too!). I’ll be back soon with more design news and notes. Allons-y!

 

Friday Design: No Space for Hate in the Library Flyer

Happy Friday, dear readers! It has been a week, hasn’t it? I hope you and your family, friends, neighbors, and everyone you know are safe. I hope, if you can, you’ve been able to send support to those affected by Hurricane Harvey (link to list of places to donate) and any other causes that need it, as we know so many do now. So in these times, it can feel like talking about graphic design and libraries is trivial or that we can’t possibly do anything that can help. But of course, that’s not true. We can help in our communities, just as we can help those we may never meet. To that end, I want to share a flyer that I hope you post in your library and that will inspire you to create more messages of love to share with the world.

So I made this flyer.

there is no space for hate in our library all our welcome. we stand with all who fight for equity, diversity and inclusion

The book graphic is from freepik (with modification to the colors), thus the credit line below it, but the rest I wrote, typeset, and colorized. Feel free to download the flyer (PDF version) via this link.  It is scaled to print on letter-sized paper.

It’s important that everyone know our libraries are safe, welcoming spaces. We know this as librarians, but sometimes we have a difficult time articulating it loudly. So I hope this flyer helps a bit. I’m hoping that my library administration approves the funds for printing a standing banner version of this flyer that I made for placement in our entrance lobby areas (if not, I’m going to have to make friends down at the local print shop).

So, if you ever feel like you are struggling to connect your work to causes close to your heart and make a difference when it just all seems to be going wonky in the world, remember you can always help out. You never know what you say, do, or make that might start the spark that causes great amounts of positive change.

I hope you have a good weekend and feel inspired to make your designs do more, say more, be more. Together we truly can do good things. Allons-y!

Friday Design: Let's Be Loud

Happy Friday, dear readers! So wow, I don’t know about you, but I’m still processing this week. Let’s get something out of the way right away before diving into some design: Nazis are bad. Hate is bad. There is no room for either in our work as libraries, in our libraries, in our communities, and I believe that we can be louder in our calls and actions of love and welcome and solidarity. There’s definitely no room for hate or othering or an of the many “isms” in our work as librarian graphic designers either and our creative work can be a powerful form of resistance. So, with that, let’s get into what I mean about being loud and what it has to do with design.

Art is powerful. Words are powerful. As librarian graphic designers, we wield both on a daily basis. As librarians, our business is information, knowledge creation, and support for lifelong learning. Our business is in words. Which is great at this moment and every moment because we can be loud.

And I don’t mean just in the “let’s go against shushing stereotypes of librarians loud.” I mean loud in the graphical sense, too, with what we choose to create and post and share in our libraries and communities. We wield the epic power of brushes, paints, posterboard, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Publisher. We can create and adapt posters and banners and flyers and buttons that show publicly that we are about inclusion and diversity and love and reading and community and all the things that build us up as people together instead of tearing us down.

So as you are working on your next design, remember that design is never neutral just as typefaces are never neutral. We can use our graphic design work to make a difference, however small, and add our voice to the conversation.

So be loud in your designs. Be bold in your stance. Mark your library as a safe space. And show everyone how important librarian graphic designers are beyond marketing and promotion. Break out of your shell in your designs. We can do this, together.

I’m working on new banners and posters for my library to greet our students when they come back for the fall term. I want there to be no doubt where my library stands and I can do this through my designs. I’ll be sharing them, too, in upcoming posts for inspiration and for you to use, too.

If you’ve created graphics of welcome for your library, I’d love to see them. Please share and let’s be loud in our library designs together!

May you have a weekend full of good times, rest, and inspiration to continue your work and your art. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Design: Inspirations and Sabbaticals

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has been going well and you have a lovely weekend planned. I’m working through the final pages of proofs for my book and looking forward to seeing some friends and recharging my design inspiration batteries this weekend. To that end, I want to share some resources for inspiration (as usual) and some thoughts on sabbaticals (as promised) today.

First the inspiration. I love these monthly posts for design inspiration from Smashing Magazine. This month’s one I find especially inspiring in terms of color palettes. With the end of summer just another turn of the calendar away, I’m itching to create some bright new designs for my library so we can keep the summer vibe even with the school year starting.

Also, if you need some typography or lettering reads, check out the list over at The Well-Appointed Desk for suggestions. I find endless inspiration looking at great type and lettering. I hope you do, too.

Now, some thoughts on sabbaticals. I was super-excited to be awarded a sabbatical during last year in the fall quarter. This meant that, with adding in vacation time, I was able to be “out of the office” from mid-September until we started the winter quarter in January of this year. To say it was a fantastic experience was an understatement. In the words of one of my dear friends, it freakin’ rocked! I finally caught up on rest and was able to be so productive. I wrote, edited, and illustrated my book that is coming out this fall during that time. (Obviously copyediting, proofing, and layout came later, but the bulk of my work was done on sabbatical.) I was able to do all that, plus hang out more with my husband and friends, have time to walk and hike, participate in NaNoWriMo, and travel. Oh, and there were almost daily naps. I miss my naps.

Sabbaticals, contrary to some misconceptions, are not about getting paid not to work. They’re about having the headspace and time to tackle big projects that can’t get done (or can’t get done well in a reasonable amount of time) during the regular work schedule. So, once every 7 years, there is the possibility of a sabbatical. It’s not a guarantee at my university that you’ll get one just because you’re eligible, but you can apply for one. I’m already thinking about what audacious projects I could do if I were awarded another sabbatical and how I’ll possibly wedge in writing more books before then.

What my sabbatical taught me is what I really love about my work as an academic librarian, what really drives me and inspires me and what totally drains me. It was clarifying for me and also allowed me to be a whole lot less stressed than usual, which I think everyone in my life appreciated. Trying to bring this knowledge to bear on how I work while at the library is still a work in progress, but I’m hoping to be more balanced and able to move forward on projects (especially in graphic design) as we go into the next academic year.

So what’s this have to do with anything? Well, I hope you enjoy reading my finished book that came together during my sabbatical. I hope that you’re able to find ways to carve out space to do things that inspire you, even if sabbaticals aren’t an option. I hope you (and me and everyone) can maintain our joy in what we love to do so we can continue to make progress in whatever work inspires us, even if it won’t be progressing as fast as if we had whole days to devote to it. Plus, if you ever get a chance to apply for a sabbatical, take it. It really can be amazing.

Finally, just for fun, if you missed the hilarious Twitter exchange between Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig, please do yourself a favor and read it. It will make you laugh out loud…When Authors Talk on Twitter: Slasher Movie Edition.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of inspiration and relaxation. I’ll be back soon with more design news and notes (maybe even book updates). Allons-y!

Big News: My Graphic Design Book for Librarians is Available for Pre-Order!

easy graphic design for librarians book cover

Yes, you read that blog post title correctly. I have a book coming out! (*squee*) I’m super-excited to be able to share that my book, Easy Graphic Design for Librarians: From Color to Kerningis now available for pre-order! It’s in the ALA Store and everything. Tell your friends, tell your colleagues, tell anyone who does graphic design work for their libraries. Many, many thanks for spreading the word!

So you might be wondering, book? What book? When were we talking about a book?

Answers: yes, see above, not until today.

So a bit of background. Obviously, my dear readers who have been following this blog know that I’m passionate about graphic design. I love to share what I know and the idea of writing a book began percolating in the back of my mind after the 2015 ALA conference where I presented a poster session on my research on librarians and graphic design. I looked to see what was out there and there wasn’t much focused on librarians, which was interesting. So, being that I’m eligible for sabbaticals at my university, I applied and was awarded a sabbatical for fall quarter of last year (2016).

I spent my sabbatical writing my book and also used the time to send in a book proposal to ALA Editions. I was thrilled that they wanted the book and I did do a happy dance in front of my desk before getting back to writing, illustrating, and editing.

It’s been a whirlwind the last few months as I turned in my manuscript earlier this year, went through copyediting, and am currently finishing up reviewing proofs. I can’t wait to hold the finished book in my hands–and I don’t have to wait long as it’s coming out this fall!

I’ll write more about the process, my sabbatical, and other thoughts later. But I really just wanted to share that my book is real, it’s being published, and I can’t wait for you to read it. I’m so excited to be sharing in more detail my passion for graphic design in libraries with you.

Thanks, as always, for reading. And I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!