Friday, August 3, 2018

The Desktop Publisher Graphic Designer

Recently, in a discussion with a fellow graphic designer, he complained about a potential client who had contacted him, looking for a "Desktop Publisher". The client had stated that the project required someone competent in design, layout, and and desktop publishing skills using InDesign. My designer friend had taken offence at the term "Desktop Publisher". It diminishes the complexity of everything that goes into a publication and minimizes the work we do as Graphic Designers. (His attitude was clear to the client, and he ultimately didn't get the contract.)

I completely agree that as trained graphic designers, our work is usually much more refined and and professionally put together that a "Desktop Publisher". I'm a graphic designer who's focus is on print, design, layout. I have a keen understanding of color coordination, and typography and composition.

Circa 1960; unnamed artist, making camera ready art for layout and paste up.
THIS is what Desktop Publishing was BEFORE computers.
Quark was the program of choice when I was in school and even then, in its infancy. I witnessed the dawn of the desktop publishing era. I saw T-squares, French Curves, and non-photo-blue pencils go the way of the dodo bird. I could create intricate layer masks with rubylith and an exacto blades that took hours of meticulous cutting... the computer could do it in a fraction of that time.

In the early 90's, many homes had a computer and everyone and their brother thought they could design business cards, letterhead, brochures, presentations, etc with a few clicks of a keyboard ... and then when they ultimately failed, a real designer, like myself, was called in to fix the mess. 

So, I understand my friends agitation at the term. However, InDesign IS called a "Desktop Publishing" program. So, we can not blame non-creative people to understand that there is SO MUCH MORE to "Desktop Publishing" than understanding a computer program.

My advice to GRAPHIC DESIGNERS seeking jobs or projects: When a potential employer or client asks them about their DESKTOP PUBLISHING skills... Don't bristle, turn red, and emit steam from your ears...Explain to the hiring manager why your creative training as a Graphic Designer is so much more valuable to them and their company. Tell them that knowing how to use a program like InDesign is only a tiny fraction of what goes into designing a spectacular catalog, book, or brochure. Remember that, before computers...before there were Graphic Designers and Desktop Publishers, there were Print Designers and Layout Artists. Titles will continue to change, but the objective is the same.... Create stunning designs with images, typology and style!

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