I’ve been working with print media for a long time. Understand that I’m not a designer, but as an editor who’s worked closely with designers in the past, I have a decent working knowledge of using InDesign — enough to get me in trouble, but not enough to layout a magazine.
The other day, I came across a client who wanted me to help them fix their editorial workflow and manage their content better. To do that, they wanted to change up some of their pagination processes and the general flow of incoming text and outgoing design. It’s something I’ve done many times before, so I had experience behind me. But the problem now was two designers, both my seniors in age and breadth of knowledge, who were very stuck in their ways. Fortunately, I had Nikki Hart on my side.
Breaking Bad Habits
When we work — or at least when I do — I find that we get into rhythms that become routines. For example, to write this post I opened up nvALT, typed in a title using my proprietary and ridiculously complicated file naming structure, and then did the actual writing in Byword. I’m always open to using new options, but right now, this is what works for me.
They too had become complacent and stuck in their ways, and I needed an in.
Laying out a magazine has been the same. If you’re not familiar with the process, the term “pagination” refers to laying out the magazine so that the articles and advertisements in the book are in the correct sequence. It’s not rocket science, but it is a difficult concept for some people to grasp, as it was for me initially. But a few years ago, a designer friend of mine showed me a template that she built using InDesign and that made my life a lot easier. I still use that template today, five years later. I’ve become complacent and stuck in my ways.
Now, here I was confronted with two designers who didn’t want to work with me because I was changing the comfortable system they had in place. They too had become complacent and stuck in their ways, and I needed an in. To do this, I decided to eat my own dog food as it were, and take a course here at Tuts+ Premium — Nikki Hart’s Introduction to Magazine Design.
In my situation, I didn’t want to take this course because I have aspirations of becoming a print designer — far from it. Instead, I wanted to gain as much knowledge about the field as possible so that I could speak these designer’s language. Now think about how that could apply to your situation.
The point is, you can take courses that are outside of your wheelhouse not necessarily to pick up the skill (although that’s obviously a great idea), but to learn how to talk to someone who has the skill.
Maybe you know web design, but web development is more a “thar be dragons” deal. Try one of our many courses on web development. Or maybe you’re interested in learning more about graphic design like I was, but you want to get more in-depth. Try one of our fancy guides, like Your Pathway to Becoming a Graphic Designer. The point is, you can take courses that are outside of your wheelhouse not necessarily to pick up the skill (although that’s obviously a great idea), but to learn how to talk to someone who has the skill. Sometimes, that’s the most important part.
After taking the course, I went in the next day and sat down with the designers. How did it go? A lot better now that I had concrete ideas and terms to guide me along my way. In fact, it seems like working with these guys won’t be quite the hassle it could’ve been. And why?
All because I took some time to learn something new.
Feature image via Sean Winters on Flickr