Fundamentals of Chinese Typography: #1 Fonts Styles (Songti, Fangsongti, Mingti, Heiti, Kaiti)

Most of our Chinese typefaces tend to be few and far in between, apart from the random file names, type names, we find it often a baffling task to make sense of Chinese type. To open this new series of posts about Chinese type in greater detail, allow me to explain to you how Chinese typography is classified. This will help you to recognise, identify and be more precise when it comes to typeface selection. Here we go! 🙂

Let’s define some important concepts I’ll be using here first:-

A. KEY CONCEPTS

Font Styles 字型格式: These are NOT to be seen as typeface / font. No, they are called STYLES, because they represent a tone, if you will, of how a typeface looks like. For instance, Garamond is a TYPEFACE, and it falls under the category of ‘Old Style’, for instance.

Fonts aka Typeface 字體: Arial, Comic Sans, Helvetica. These are what we like to call (the names of) fonts, and typefaces.

Typeface Style 字體樣式: Bold, Italic, Oblique, Thick, Extrabold, Bold Italic, etc. These apply to a specific typeface, and its variety depend entirely on the typeface itself.

It’s much easier to see it from the perspective of English typography. For instance, there are a few broad categories that typefaces can fall into:-

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In the same manner, Chinese typefaces can also be classified into a few broad categories known as font styles.

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B. HOW TO UNDERSTAND CHINESE TYPEFACE  NAMES

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As you may be immediately aware, Chinese typeface names usually carry much more info than English. In the typeface selector menu, you can instantly tell what font AND font style it is.

In the case of Fangzheng and Hiragano type face, we can see the specifications listed directly in each typeface name.

A Chinese typeface name is made up of the font name + font style + typeface style (if any) + language specification.

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In other words, should you have the complete set of a particular typeface, you will have, literally, several very similar names in the menu. Unless you look carefully, you may even think that they are duplicates of each other!

Unlike English typeface where you basically use ‘Times”  then go to select “Bold”, for example, each typeface style (Bold, Italic etc) is completely redrawn and recognised as a separate typeface name listed on your computer. This can be confusing for many people, but know that its the same thing.

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And of course, there are also bigger typeface families that have much more specific typeface styles as well.

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Thankfully the classifications don’t get too much more complex from here. To understand the various classifications, we need to understand the Chinese writing system.

C. CHINESE FONT STYLES 

1. SONG TI

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You can tell a songti very easily by its relatively thinner horizontal lines compared to its vertical strokes. There also ‘triangles‘ at the end of each stroke. This is to compensate for any possible ‘wear and wear’ that may occur during printing of that era.

2. FANG SONG TI

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Some characteristics of Fangsong include a uniform thickness of stroke width throughout the character, and are visually narrower and taller than its original song ti.

3. MING TI

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The main differences between Song Ti and Ming Ti lies in the way the characters are written, as shown below:-

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4. HEI TI

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Hei Ti has a standard, uniform thickness in stroke width throughout, and and looks much fuller and has stronger optical weight compared to other typeface styles.

5. KAI TI

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Kai Ti can be easily recognised as its strokes mimic the fluidity of the calligraphic brush, with varying stroke width throughout the typeface.

I have covered the 5 main types of Ti (Font Styles) that you will commonly encounter. But of course, there will always be more styles for us to discover.

D. SUMMARY

Chinese fonts behave similarly to English fonts, in that they can be classified into broad categories known as font styles. Understanding this is crucial to making sense of Chinese typography.

Within the typeface itself, there are also typeface styles, aka bold, italic, etc. In Chinese type, this may be seen as 小標、中標、大標、幼線、粗體etc.

Chinese fonts are more specific in their taxonomy; every listed font will only have one variant of each typeface (e.g. bold, light, regular will appear as SEPARATE listed fonts), unlike English ones where you can simply ‘select’ the typeface style within that same typeface.

The usage of different font styles suit different purposes (I’ll be discussing this in more detail in days to come).

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Turn gruesome bookscanned PDF readings into nice, clean, searchable ones

It’s a bane of every student. In almost every module, we receive our assigned readings in disgusting, untidy and senget PDFs. You cannot copy and paste text out of it, you cannot search a key term in it, you cannot put it in your iPad and respect yourself while reading it. Printing it wastes heaps of black ink.

Now to change all that. Enough is enough. Let Jiro tell you how, now, to this:-

Let’s Go:

1. Open Adobe Acrobat  and open the offending PDF.

2. Chances are that the scanned pdf is from a book or something, and its slanted with one side of the border much broader than the other side. You need to crop away the excess borders off so that the center fold of the book is at the center of each page. This is important! Now, click on the Documents icon to reveal all the thumbnails of all pages in the PDF.

3. Hit CMD + Ato select all pages. Now right click on any of the selected thumbnails and select Crop Pages.

  1. (btw, if the pages are not in landscape mode, u can also Rotate them). Now tinker with the Top, Bottom, Left, Right numbers to crop them to make sure the center fold is at its true center. Click OK to commit the crop.


5. Now comes the magic. I’m using this wonderful Acrobat plugin called Quite Imposing 3. It has a silly website but this plugin works wonders. Once you’ve installed the plug-in, head to Plugins > Quite Imposing 3 > Tile pages, and follow the dialog box below.

6. Hit OK to tile them. Essentially this tiling chops up the pdf into individual portrait pages. This is very useful if you are reading with a Kindle, iPad or iPhone device, since it reduces the amount of silly horizontal scrolling you have to do.

7. Now, after clicking the OK from the dialog box you should have a new Acrobat window of the nicely sliced, portrait PDF. Another magic trick: Select anywhere within the pages itself and hit CMD + A. You will see a dialog box below as shown:-

8. Click OK to get to this below. If you settings isnt what you see below, click on ‘Edit…’.


9. Select “Clearscan” and click “OK“. Hit OK again in the dialog box above.

And now just wait. Acrobat will (1) straighten the pages up AND (2) make the text selectable, which also means its (finally!) searchable!. This process is known as OCR (Optical Character Recognition), and Adobe does quite a nice job.

Now, if you still see some of the remenants of the dirty black borders, you can remove them collectively or manually. Just click on the thumbnails and crop ’em away. Or if you’re lazy you can just move on. Be sure to do a quick scroll to see if every page’s text is not cut off or into the next page, (if so, it’s because you didn’t crop the initial pdf properly such that the center was the true center!)

After the process is done, remember to CMD + S (Save) it as another document (or overriding your old document). I recommend saving a new doc, just in case you made a mistake.

And you are done! 🙂 Hope this helps you! 🙂

Recording UStream as Audio Track

Hey guys, if you wanna record your radio sessions straight to your Mac, now you can. You can record pure system audio output (what your speakers will produce). And thereby also recording a streaming UStream of your radio recordings. Here’s how.

INSTALLATION ON RECORDING MAC

  1. Unzip the .zip file.
  2. Drag the Screenflow icon to the Application Folder (If you cannot find your application folder, click on the magnifiying glass and type “Applications”  and click on the “Applications” under “Folders”)
  3. Open the app. This is the ‘stable’ version, do not attempt to update or anything.

RECORDING

  1. Make sure the recording Mac’s UStream can stream and is playing out sound in the background.
  2. Press the MUTE SOUND key on your keyboard.
  3. Go to the Screenflow menu bar. Click File > New Recording
  4. Check the “Record Computer Audio” ONLY.
  5. Then, click on the Record Icon.

The recording starts in a few seconds. While recording, you can press SHIFT + CMD + 2 to stop the recording.

AFTER RECORDING

  1. Go to File > Export… or simply press CMD + E on your keyboard
  2. Under Presets, choose “Loseless – Audio only”. Also know where you’re going to export it to. I recommend “Desktop”
  3. Click export, and wait.
  4. Done! You can put it into iTunes like any mp3. After that you can delete it the original file.
  5. I realise the file generated by Screenflow, cos its ‘loseless’ can be really big. Like around 1GB for 2 hours of recording. So if you wanna upload to Soundcloud, you need to compress it.

 

COMPRESSION using QUICKTIME

  1. Right click the audio file > Open with… > Quicktime
  2. In Quicktime menu, go to File > Export…
  3. Under Format, choose “Audio Only”
  4. Click Export. Again, know where you’re exporting it to!
  5. The file should be very much smaller, around 200MB for 2hrs of audio.

The file is AIFF, which is a higher quality version than MP3. If you need to convert it into mp3, you can google MP3 converters online on google to convert for you. But iTunes doesn’t require MP3 anyway. You can upload your files to soundcloud in AIFF too.

Rethinking the Radio Fusion Web

This sem, besides fufilling my all time dream to be a DJ, I’m also given the honor and privilege to redesign the website of NTU’s campus radio, the Radio Fusion website.

It’s an awesome task. I have not touched web language for 3 years, since I transited to wordpress from my Jerrie.atspace.com blog. I haven’t launched, or have had a hard look at the Dreaweaver interface. Things have changed, just like how one will feel after leaving a country for years. But that’s not my concern for now. My job, for this sem, is going to totally redesign the entire website for Radio Fusion. I will give my best. Jiro style.

I am thinking, I have been thinking. How to give Radio Fusion the kind of web presence it deserves? What is really, really essential? I guess my design philosophy has been somehow influenced by Apple philosophy and the minimalist concept, i.e. by stripping away everything that isn’t essential, and at the same time, challenging the traditional concept of a website.

I think before getting down to the drawing board, it’s important to note these points:-

1. RFW must be communicative. It needs to essentially communicate that this IS a radio station.

2. Functionality balanced with Form. Some people tend to believe function precedes form. I beg to differ. I think how work hand in hand. So I will balance these 2 stuff. What do people go to the website for? UIUX. Begin with the end-user in mind. How to minimise the number of clicks people need to get to what they want? Is it iconic?

3. Site must be Sociable. From Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social integration, the web will be a platform that aggregates the updates from various forms of information sources.

4. Sustainability. Website must be able to be maintained with minimal effort and easily heritable when I hand this task over to the next person. I will try.

5. Simple and concise. I feel that the RFW needs to be concise and easy to navigate. Content must be  concise in language and style.

Yep. With these 5 guiding principles I will create the best Radio Fusion website ever made. Let’s go!

8 steps to making a magazine.

It’s always like that.

After every issue of Praxis/By My Witness comes out, I end up with another set of realisation. And it always gets me thinking about many, many things. Things that turned out good, and things that could be improved.

The thing about doing magazines is that, its a very cyclical thing. Good because you can always have the next issue to improve on. If the colors look weird, the text goes missing, the words misspelled, or whatever, there is always the next issue.

And that’s also the bad thing. Once a mag goes to print, everything is fixed, cast in stone. And it goes down in history like that. And in every issue, I try my best, I become more anal than the previous issue, I become more detailed, I become more conscious of every aspect. I become, technically, better.

I have grown to be able to anticipate issues. Time is a factor. It is always the damn factor. But at the same time while I can preempt problems, I cannot resolve them. Because a mag involves so many different parties. Even with a small production team like mine where I work directly with my boss, there are contributors, photographers, editors, translators, printers, and so many people I have to liase with.

It seems so inevitable, that even if you give a mag production schedule 2 months to nuture, the real, real action is, only, inevitably on the last few weeks, and in the most recent issue, the last few days. I can tell you, it’s downright infuriating to be working with such a tight deadline.

This is because action always happens late. Articles ALWAYS comes in late. Translations come in even later. So by the time the magazine really gets sent to the printer, several critical checking processes are not carried out. This creates a greater margin for errors to come (and trust me, I have never created a perfect, error-free publication; there is NO such thing). And when the product comes out and I see the glaring error, I look back at the tumultuous route I take and wonder why do I even do this anyway.

I always hope that articles come in early.

I always hope translations will come in early.

I always hope that I will have enough time to layout my articles.

I always hope that there will be sufficient proofing time so that I can at least try to catch errors instead of hoping that there will be no errors.

Okay, here is the general timeline for things so you guys understand how this thing works.

1. Initial project brief: the client will advise the designer what’s coming up. This meeting is very general and basically gives the ‘feel’ of the next issue and the rough idea of contents.

2. Design draft: the designer will try and match the ‘feel’ of the next issue by doing up layouts and designs simply based on intuition. There is not solid stuff to work on, and so all he has is experience and past issues to chart his design course. Which is why the first issue is the worst, since there is no background to fall back on. Subsequent issues are relatively easier.

3. Detailed project brief: the client will sit down with the designer to discuss at length about the pagination, articles (in rough ideas without concrete copy), the exact concept and feel and any special stuff or treatment (e.g. an insert poster, a metallic 5th color on the cover). The designer will also let the client vet the design drafts so mark out what the client likes and work on those they don’t fancy.

4. Full Laying out of pages: The entire magazine is laid out from cover to cover, complete with all dummy text and photos and all that. Note that the articles are STILL not in yet, nothing is set, everything is supposed to be fluid and the design is to expect change.

5. Articles come in: Now the designer will basically replace all the dummy text with the real ones. The articles themselves could still be unedited and are still subject to change, but the appearance of the mag is more or less set. For Chinese mag, it will STILL be in dummy state because only when the original articles are edited, that the Chinese mag can be fitted with real copy.

*Now this process can stretch ridiculously long, right up to the NIGHT before the day we need to sent to the printer*

6. Proofing: After both mags have the text in them, the mags are printed out in full color to locate inconsistencies and errors.Copies of the mag will printed out and proofed by a team of people.  This is the time where you can catch maybe 80% of all the mistakes. There is also a checklist that designers will use to make sure the common errors are absent. It is important to create and develop that checklist because every mag has its own domain of frequently occurring errors. For instance, Chinese mags have to be entirely outlined because Chinese fonts cannot print properly otherwise. And that is very, very critical.

*The proofing process ideally should be over at least 3 days for a 50 page mag. But it can be reduced to just hours if your production schedule is short to begin with.*

7. Printer’s Color Proof: By this time you are assuming no errors (in theory of course), and sending to print. Ideally the printer SHOULD have at least 2 days to:- (1) check all pages can print properly. (2) send out a COLOR PROOF which is the most accurate proof you can get to the real thing. This is also the LAST LAST chance to check for errors and correct them. But of course if there is no time, then you just won’t that last chance.

8. Print: After sending the pdf to the printer, THOU SHALT NOT LOOKETH AT THY MAGAZINE ANYMORE. The reason being that errors can never be fully caught, and realising it creates endless re-revisions and that will confuse the printer cos you keep sending so many versions of the same thing. And like smoking and drugs, you will become tempted and addicted to check and recheck every pdf you send. It’s a waste of time and effort.

There you have it. The 8 steps to making a magazine. And the idea is simple. TIME.

With time, the 8 steps can be carried out properly.

With no time, the 8 steps will be rushed out.

Yep. Okay I am done ranting.

doing design work as a ministry (and / or) for money?

By now quite a few people in church would have heard of what I do. I was a little surprised because during the retreat there were people in church who knew me as ‘the one who designed the camp booklet’, or ‘the one who designed the mission magazine’. People whom I haven’t met before, but they somehow heard of me.

After doing work for church for a while now, I think it’s a good time to say some things that I’ve always wanted to say, but lacked the conviction or confidence to. But it’s time I make that stand clear to myself, and well as to anyone who is serving in this capacity.

Note that I said serving. But I am paid. How do you reconcile that?

Quite a few of people asked (and many more are probably thinking of it in their hearts): (1) Why the need to be paid? (2) Shouldn’t I do it as my ministry to God (meaning that I shouldn’t charge the church at all)?

The simplest answer is also the most honest one: I need to survive. I need the money for my livelihood. No doubt it’s not a lot, but that’s not a reason why designers who serve should be denied. It’s the reason why they *should* be paid.

Secondly, I *AM* doing my ministry. Where is my ministry?

My ministry is the difference between the value of my work and the price I charge. I am confident that of all the work I have done thus far since collecting my first design allowance, I have given more in value than I’ve received in legal tender.

It’s isn’t much easier to say this now, however, even with a certain level of recognition and repute. Because I am my greatest critique, and I do get quite demoralised when I do not seem to ‘give’ as much as I did in a previous issue, for example.

But when I realise that God looks at my heart and knows I’ve given my all for Him, that’s good enough. Who is my ministry for? It is towards people, to see people smile, to see people benefit very practically from my design work, but ultimately, ultimately, it is for God.

God is my judge for this ministry. Design is my ministry, and this ministry is for God, and rightly so. I am not at the position to say which ministry deserves payment. I’m also not going to argue how much an amount is right to pay a designer that’s serving in church. That’s not the point here. But I think this is one of the ways that a church blesses its people, and allows them to continue to serving in their greatest capacity.

‘Because I first thought of you’: Why the Grace Retreat Booklet looks like this.

Many people think design is about feeling. The ‘right’ design evokes the right sense of emotions from a designer’s targeted audience. A designer is faced with almost limitless options as to which font to use, what paper to use, what colors to use and so on. Contrary to the popular belief that more is better, good (publication) design is based on the fact that it is self-limiting. The adage of ‘less in more’ couldn’t be more apt. Of course I am highly influenced by my own styles, but my styles are in turned influenced by my target audiences as well.

Many people try to explain these seemingly intangible things out. But those are words. Allow me to actually explain these design decisions by giving real examples, hot off the booklet that hundreds of people are going to use this coming week for a 5 day retreat.

1. Design Decisions: Identifying TO and WITH.

The moment I was tasked with designing the retreat booklet, I asked myself: what is the theme of the retreat? That’s the most important question: addressing the issue, by giving the campers a booklet that can identify to and with. This means (1) it must be immediately discernible to everyone that it is a camp booklet, for this year’s camp. (2) People should be able to find emotional attachment to it.

PEPPER BACKGROUND: I call this the pepper background. It gives a nice paper-like feel to the already woodfree paper, which has a rougher texture. This effortlessly adds a dimension to flat icons or color blocks, and allows illustrations to ‘pop’ out at you.


2. Infographics: Logical, Easy-to-read-at-a-glance-Idiot-proof Diagrams.

Unlike Teens magazines where the readers are likely to fall within a narrow and easily defined age group, the campers are of  diverse age groups. Yet as a designer I don’t want dry information such as bussing times to look like crap. These were my concepts:-

I. Bright/vibrant colors: Using Orange/Yellow Being warm colors, they are very suitable in portraying movement and suggests fluidity. In this case I also used them to differenciate, very clearly, the two places. You don’t want people getting stuck in Kuala Lumpur because of an unclear bussing chart.

II. Arrow Arrow Arrows: I cannot live without arrows. They are so important. They indicate direction, that’s the FIRST thing people want to know. From WHERE to WHERE. Don’t keep them waiting; let them know the first instance they look at that page. Arrows do a great job.

III. Alignment: In a potentially info-overloaded page, it’s so important to ALIGN things. 4 timings? Align. 2 timings? Align to centre. Note that for the “IOI Mall” row I did not mindlessly align it to the width of the big directional headers, but the invisible ‘column’ of timings. Instinct is key.

3. Content Page (The Hyperlink page to everything else on your book)

It’s called “Content Page”, but if I could I’ll call it the “Content Map”. The idea is to make sure people get their info — FAST!

No, I did not just anyhow press enter to get this arrangement. look at how the topics are divided. The logic is that the space (called the negative space) between the wordings tend to draw the eye to the FIRST line below the wordings. For example, “Self-drive Guide”, “Programme Schedule” and “Venue Map” are the ‘HOT TOPICS’, i.e. they are the same pages people will KEEP on flipping to.

The problem with the standard content pages is that all the info is clunked together, which forces the reader to scan thru every line of the content page items just to find something. Not for this booklet. Even in the content page, topics are categorised for easy, and more importantly, quick referencing. By the time people look at content pages, they are NOT leisurely looking for a nice chapter to browse thru over morning tea. They want their info, and quick!

4. S P  A    C     E        O       U        T!

There is absolutely nothing more irritating than writing stuff on a book than realising that there’s NO space left. Then your words start to defy gravity and crawl upwards like a creepy crawly up the vertical edges of the page. That should never have to happen. By planning, give your readers ample space to write, draw, doodle, paste silly stickers or whatever — all over the page. It’s very crowded in Singapore as it is. No need for crowded books as well. Let them feel liberated. Okay I exaggerated. But you understand.

5. Challenging the norm.

An ongoing rage in many designers’ heads is this question: is it overdone? Is it too predictable? How interesting can a informational booklet become? With a bit of thought, there’re stuff you can tamper with. It can begin with going landscape. Many info that were traditionally placed in a single page, and read vertically, were changed. Now it flows across two pages, and reads horizontally. The timestamps remind you of a world timezone concept.

I could go on and on, but essentially, I feel, to do design is to show that you care for the people you are trying to reach. At the end of the day it pleasures me to see people hold my booklet in their hands, penning down their thoughts, relying on it for directions and perhaps look back at this year’s retreat when they see this booklet again sometime later on in their lives.

Grace Retreat goers, if you are reading this, I thought of you when I designed it. This book is for you. Hope you like it.

concept, skills and reality

Okay technically I should be drowning in my papers and readings and all, but somehow in the shower some ideas came to my mind. I was thinking of what my design mentor said. Those who know, know that I’ve been doing magazine designs and layouts for a while now, and recently this year, in fact, we decided to come up with 2 totally new designs for what was one magazine.

Essentially that mag has 2 languages, and the design was identical, save for the text itself that was translated. Or at most just some minimal layout changes. But this year we’re doing it all new. All over again. To this end i wanted the English look to be avande-garde, and the Chinese design to look emotive (not emotional, ahha).

And I kinda of succeeded and failed at the same time.

It turns out that the English design was not making the cut. But I honestly feel it isn’t because it sucked. It’s because I couldn’t continue to design it completely. It’s like writing an essay, then finding yourself stuck, lost for words at the 2nd paragraph.

It’s quite tramatic to say the least. Especially for a designer who’s done 2 full 60 page annual reports, countless periodicals and posters. I was honestly shocked at how much I don’t know about the genre.

But Chinese was a different thing altogether. I started off later, but finished it off earlier, without much intervention from ‘above’. Partially also I was given the honor to taking charge of the Chinese design. Partially cos I knew quite a good deal from reading and all.

But it’s not like I new nothing about how avant garde looks like. It’s kinda hipster. Kinda alternative. Kinda like loud, edge. I could easily have access (and did access) resources online about English designs. Hell, it’s like 1000 design sites are in English and I can’t even find 1 in Chinese. So technically my english design shouldn’t be *that* bad.

I had the concept in my head, but I just could not get it out.

I remember the time, maybe 4, 5 years ago when I started on Photoshop. before that I used this now obscure software called Ulead Photoimpact. I had concepts, just like I have concepts now. I knew what I wanted, but I couldn’t get photoshop to do what I wanted it to do. I could not click layers. I could not draw shapes. I didn’t even know what the hell layers were.

This made me draw some parallel to now. Suddenly when I’m faced with a new genre of design, I am unable to realise it. Then it dawned on me that what I lacked is skill. Not hard skills like how to draw shapes or align text. But the skill to create what’s in my head.

It’s when you can ‘see’ it in your head, but not bring it down to paper.

Skill is the ability to see lines, shapes and text as complementary to any design and feel, and freely manipulate them to create a feeling as desired.

Skill is the ability to use the tablet and draw out coherent stuff that you can use and build upon.

Skill the the ability to see beyond the design into the philosophy, internalise it and reproduce it at will without duress or ‘kek’ness.

I think all these skills needs to be intentionally learnt. And sometimes the best ways is to immerse myself into the culture. The only issue is that, while there is a very clear ‘Chinese’ culture, the ‘English’ culture is quite vague. What constitutes english design? How can I learn English design culture without taking a module and having to study for it?

These are important questions to ask. They will help me get my skills.

Then, I can bring my concepts to reality. And not get stuck on the 3rd page of a 20-page magazine.

why you should respect a designer

Many times when design projects or campaigns planning starts, everyone becomes very excitable. Everyone will be spilling out ideas over ideas, ways a campaign can be implemented, the hundreds and thousands of people impacted and the glorious recognition that will follow suit.

But the problem is that reality would slowly strike.

Suddenly everyone has their own lives to lead. Their day job. Their million other projects. Their children, wifes, husbands, gathering, their dogs. They realise that don’t really know how to do it. They realise that people could fall out of the group with no rhyme or reason.

They realise that people can betray them, sell their ideas to someone else and unscrupulously passing it as their own.

Especially designs that involve the public domain, every practically everything is ‘modified’ from everything else. Who are you to accuse someone of plagiarism when — who knows — how many percent of yours were unconsciously ‘inspired’ from the work of others?

And when the deadline looms very very near, the realities get even more disruptive. Yet being creative takes time, and being creative means that you cannot be rushed. Deadline and creativity aren’t the best of buddies, as most designers would concur.

So when you’ve gotta submit that design, that layout, that proposal in a week, three days, or a few hours time, what do you do?

Or more rightly put, “what can you do?”

At this designers have to put down their own ego and relent to being pragmatic and realistic. It is not a defeat though. It is simply another way the designer chooses to tackle the problem. For every problem there are two broad directions to take, either the creative way, or the tried-and-tested way.

Trust me when I say that most self-respecting, experienced designers in the right mind will never want their designs to be shredded left right and centre by anyone. Especially not towards the end of a project timeline when any change is like a bomb to an already bruised stamina.

Designing is tough enough. We don’t need to have to argue over what lines, colors, position, fonts and feel this project / campaign / poster needs to have. As much as I want to make them see my point, I know that there simply isn’t enough time left.

If the other party were a boss or superior, it’s actually easier. If he or she pays your salary, it’s even easier. Easier to relent to the requests, however lame and ridiculous and late. So you simply say ‘OK’ to everything, even in your heart you’re thinking “DAFUG IS THIS.”

But if the other party is your non-designer classmate in school, and technically no one is lording over the other, it gets a little harder for your ego. But you’ll still relent anyway, because arguing or debating over red, blue, green or yellow lines just makes completing that project all the more harder. Giving in is easier.

I know this sounds terribly elitist, but hear me out.

Everyone sees things differently. Designers know that. But we are known as designers because we (by definition) are supposed to know a bit more than the normal person on the street. Our eyes are supposed to see that there’s not only ‘OK’ and ‘NOT-OK’ design. We can sense the infinite yet minuscule graduations between Acceptable, Slightly good, Decent, Functional, Inspiration, Exemplary, Awe-striking, Phenomenal. We can even explain what makes a design work, and how it can be improved. We can even quote bombastic theories to back our claims. We even know that mathematics has a critically important role in design, no matter how cool it seems to hate math.

In short, if you hire us, trust us. If you don’t trust us, why hire us?

In many ways, experienced designers are quite good at what they do. And a fair amount are probably better than you. Deal with it. But good designers are not only good in design. They can also adapt between being visionary and being amenable.

Even if it sucks to be amenable or to appear sorely un-opinionated.

So, don’t just scoff away at a designer’s nonchalance. Don’t think that he’s just being arrogant. Don’t think that she’s being condescending with every ‘okay, sure’ when you tell her what to do / change / edit towards the end of a project timeline.

Don’t think he or she “just” needs to design. She or he probably had it worse than you. Count yourself lucky if your designer isn’t bitch fighting with you to the bitter end.

這就是我 me

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