Everything I Know...
Everything I Know I Learned from my Art Director
In 1985/1986, I worked for a year as an intern
in an advertising agency. (How did that happen? Long story.)
This was in the
days before desktop publishing; then, typesetting involved
placing little glass plates in a machine, and rasterizing
photographs meant someone had to spend some time in a dark
In exchange of working
hard for very little pay for a year, I took home a few
simple truths. You get them here for free.
Don't let anybody tell you the World-Wide Web isn't useful.
Layout is done with light tables (tables lit from below),
cutters (sharp knifes) and fixed liners mounted on a drawing table.
Scissors are useless. Liners are useful for
drawing and cutting straight lines, but only after you've found
When using a drawing table, tape the paper to the table.
When you write text by hand during layout, and you don't know what
to write, Germans write "OXMOX." (I think layouters in
other contries write other things.)
To write a legible (non-oxmox) headline by hand,
typeset it first, and then draw along the
typeset letters using a light table. (The layout
looks better if everything is drawn, but you want the drawing
to be as neat as possible.) Even better, let
an intern do it.
To avoid smearing a half-finished drawing, rest your sweaty hand
on a separate piece of paper.
Don't ever use anything but rubber cement as glue, unless
you want to mount pictures on card-board; in that case use
toxic spray-on glue.
The inverse homeopathy of rubber cement: very small pieces
of rubber cement are best removed with one large piece.
(That's why graphic artists hold on to their rubber cement globs;
it's not just nostalgia.)
Inventing slogans and names is mostly a process
of social negotiation. First, the agency demonstrates
its status by producing lots and lots of lines (the more, the
bettter). Then, the customer shows his (or her) status by
producing a single line that is
met with unquestioning enthusiasm by the agency and consequently used.
Public Relations department
Journalists are the funniest people in the world. Spend
as much time with them as possible, but don't try to drink
more than they do.
If you can't get started writing in a certain style, just
pretend you could. Fake it. Everybody
who writes like that fakes it.