Friday Design: Handout for Book Talk at ALA Midwinter

Happy Friday, dear readers! Can you believe it is almost the end of January? Where has the time flown? I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’d like a pause button. There’s so many things to do and projects to start that taking a breather (even in January) sounds quite nice. But luckily, there are always fun design projects that might make the hours fly by, but at least in a good way.

Today, I want to share a bit of my design process for creating the handout I’m using for my book talk at ALA Midwinter.

[Shameless plug: If you are going to Midwinter, stop by the ALA Store at 11:30 am on Saturday, Feb. 10, to join my book talk about graphic design for librarians and get your book signed (if you want). Details on the Event Scheduler here. ]

So I talk a lot about planning and process when it comes to graphic design, as do many others. But I find that while we share finished projects, we rarely share the process and planning bits. Today I wanted to share a couple of pages from my planning process for my handout.

First, a bit of context. I’m super-excited that the team at ALA Editions is having me do a short book talk and signing at ALA Midwinter. I love talking about graphic design with my fellow librarians. Plus, who doesn’t like an excuse to design something new? The challenge? I am going to be doing a graphic design talk without a projector! That means I have to get creative in order to show examples of visual communication. Luckily I get to have a handout printed for my talk.

I am a messy planner when I’m working on graphic design projects. I’m sometimes envious of artists who have beautiful sketchbooks and journals that look perfect, even in their rough drafts. I’m not like that. I use scratch paper and a pencil (or whatever else is lying around) and start brainstorming whatever comes to mind first.

Below is the first page I began writing and sketching out what I wanted my talk to be about and ideas for my handout:

photograph of rough draft of handout with examples, tips, and parts of design outlined

You’ll notice it isn’t really pretty and it is very rough. I’m using this page to just get ideas on the page, in no particular order, so I don’t forget anything I want to cover. You’ll notice I have a lot of arrows and some bits are beginning to look like a flowchart. This helps me decide hierarchy, grouping, and order for a handout and presentation. Parts of the writing look better than others because I was pondering how to phrase certain ideas (and I was also using my planning time to sneak in calligraphy practice. It’s all about multitasking.).

But this is super-rough and far from what I’d put in a handout. But I’m getting into what I want to do and by grouping ideas, in my head I’m already thinking about layout and how many columns, rows, etc. I might need to make the handout flow and make sense.

This second photo is of the second page of my drafting, where I was gathering ideas for the presentation, along with more formed ideas for headings/organization of my handout.

draft showing presentation ideas for audience interaction, drawings, headings for handout, and graphic design quotes as well as notes about what to bring.

I write a lot of notes to myself. Here, I’ve written reminders about what to bring with me to the presentation as well as inspirational quotes that may or may not make it into the final handout. The middle section is where I was working on descriptive headings for my handout, again following groupings that I worked out on the first page. And you can see there are also ideas about audience interactions and drawings I could easily do as examples.

What’s this all mean for you when you are working on your next design project?

  • First, don’t worry about about having messy rough drafts when you are sketching out your ideas. They are called rough drafts for a reason.
  • Second, take time to let your ideas germinate in your head and play around with what inspires you and what might inspire your audience.
  • Third, be bold and go out on a limb with what you design. If you aren’t having some fun, you’re not doing it right.
  • Fourth, there is always time to sneak in calligraphy practice. Even if it is simply with a pencil for a modern calligraphy look.

So how did all of this finally work out in my final handout? You’ll just have to come to Midwinter and chat with me to find out. 🙂

I hope you have a lovely weekend full of inspiration, relaxation, and rejuvenation. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Also, hopefully I’ll see some of you in Denver soon! Allons-y!

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