14. Printing Design and Publication

Greer Allen
(Evaluation of the RBS 1994 version of this course)

In today's museums and libraries, the texts for readers' instructions, call slips, signs, announcements, posters, checklists, and full-dress catalogs are generally composed on microcomputers, often by staff members with little graphic design experience. This course will teach the principles of good design within the limits of readily available software programs, centering on work generated by a laser printer and reproduced on a photo- copier (but without neglecting more complex projects requiring the use of a commercial printer). The course will include critiques of past examples and projected work which students bring with them to class. There will be a field trip to a commercial printer.

1. How useful were the pre-course readings?

1: Very useful. 2: Useful, some more interesting than others, but did not indicate the scope and variety of issues covered in class. 3: Very useful. 5: They were directly relevant and presaged the character of the course teaching, which combined the pragmatic, the poetic, the visually challenging, and the witty. There also was enough to present a range of ideas without being burdensome. 6: Excellent, very useful. Carefully selected material covering a range from specific and practical to general and theoretical. 7: Pre-course readings were appropriate and useful as a background. The Pocket Pal is a real plus for future reference.

2. Was your faculty member well-prepared to teach THIS course?

1: YES. He had obviously read and digested the applications we sent in. 2: YES! 3: Yes -- extremely well prepared. Never in all my years in college have I had an instructor so well prepared to teach a course. 4: Extremely well prepared -- had lectures, outlines, and maxims to hand out, beautiful slide shows, and a large, wonderful assortment of materials to look at and critique. 5: Wondrously so. 6: Eminently so. 7: Emphatically YES!

3. Was the intellectual level of the course content appropriate?

1: Yes, There was a very broad range of expertise (and non-expertise) in our class. GA spoke to all levels, I believe equally well. 2: Yes -- and GA made an effort to find out what each of us was most interested in. 3: Yes. 4: Yes -- it was neither over our heads nor too simplistic. 5: Absolutely. 6: Yes. 7: Our class consisted of novices and professionals which originally seemed difficult, but the course covered material in a way appropriate to everyone.

4. If your course had field trips, were they effective?

1: Yes, though most of us won't actually be using a printer, so I wouldn't devote any more than about two hours to the print shop field trip. 2: Yes, the visit to a working press was helpful, especially after we had covered production in class. 3: Yes. 4: Yes, it was very interesting to visit the printer and see how processes actually work. It was also nice that it was close and did not take away a large part of the day (just an hour and a half). 5: We visited a printing plant, which was successful as exposure to the environment and complex machinery out of which modern publications emerge. 6: Yes. 7: We visited a printing plant and could see what had been discussed in class. Good!

5. Did the actual course content correspond to its RBS brochure description and Expanded Course Description? Did the course in general meet your expectations?

1: Yes. 2: Yes+yes+more so! 3: More than met my expectations. GA turned a key, opened a door, and in one short week he has given me a whole new foundation to guide me in my work. 4: The course more than met my expectations -- I did not really get a sense of what it would be from the description. Also, we were asked our specific interests at the beginning of the week and GA tailored the course somewhat toward those interests. 5: Yes, on description and expectations. 6: Yes. 7: The course was different from my original expectations, but really changed my attitudes in more lasting ways. More theory, less actual hands-on design.

6. What did you like best about the course?

1: Greer Allen. 2: The range of issues covered. An incredible amount of information was packed into the five days, but it never felt rushed. Our class was small (seven students), so there was plenty of time for discussion, individual attention, and learning from each other as well as from GA. 3: I cannot begin to list all the elements I liked best about this course. I feel I have learned a great deal and that I have been so very fortunate to have had GA as an instructor. The information I have learned has been an eye-opener! My company has really got its money's worth! 4: GA talked about design as thinking of the ideal and then working to get as close to it as possible. He really gave us a sense of some benchmarks of quality (especially appropriate to university and museum work) and told us ways to approach it, even on small budgets and low-tech equipment. This sense of standards, quality, and classicism and the desire not to give up is what I will take away. He reminded us to enrich our lives with beautiful things and strive for it in our work. I also thought the Arts Space in Newcomb was great -- good light, quiet, and we could really spread out. 5: My previous exposure to course work in graphic design emphasized a more commercial aesthetic, which was disappointing to me. This, in contrast, presented and analyzed exactly the kinds of aesthetic values that I care about and wish to understand better. This focus exceeded my expectation. 6: GA's manner and approach to printing and teaching. 7: I liked the materials brought as samples of design. The materials we looked at really reinforced the principles we were being taught.

7. How could the course have been improved?

1: I would have liked a bit more critique of work done by class members. Maybe Thursday morning could be entirely devoted to looking at samples brought in by course participants. 2: In GA's standard of measurement, the course was ``unassailable.'' 3: The only way the course could be improved is to make it more than one short week. Time has gone too quickly! 5: Seeing more printing-in-process and introducing studio exercises would extend and broaden our exposure -- but I don't think a week would ever permit that. 6: Better physical setting. 7: I can't think of any way to improve this course. The instructor was the course and his good taste made the course. The choice of instructor was a great judgment.

8. Any final thoughts?

2: This course is an invaluable resource for those of us working in the production of publications who have had no formal training but who have evolved into our institution's graphic designer. 3: TAKE IT!! 4: I highly recommend this course. It's a reaffirmation of the need for good, lovely things and it reminds us not to get too impressed by the gimmicks of the computer. 5: Look forward to enjoying a rare blend of professional and artistic expertise, energetic presentation, and old-world courtliness! 7: Any reader or designer would benefit from learning about what works in publications.

Number of respondents: 7


Leave         Tuition        Housing        Travel

Institution   Institution    Institution    Institution
gave me leave paid tuition   paid housing   paid travel

57%           42%            29%            29%

I took vaca-  I paid tui-    I paid for my  I paid my own
tion time     tion myself    own housing    travel

0%            29%            0%             0%

N/A: self-    N/A: Self-     N/A: stayed    N/A: lived 
employed, re- employed,      with friends   nearby
tired, or had retired, or    or lived at
summers off   exchange       home

43%           29%            71%            71%

Two students (30%) were graphic designers; and one student (14% each) was an antiquarian bookseller, a full-time student, a general librarian with no specified rare book duties, a museum employee, or retired.