Rare Book School

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T-70. Printing Design and Publication

Greer Allen

In today's cultural institutions, the texts for announcements, newsletters – even full-dress catalogs – are composed on computers, often by staff members with scant graphic design background. By precept and critical examination of work, the course pinpoints how available software can generate appropriate design from laser-printed posters and leaflets through complex projects involving commercial printers. Prime concerns are suitability, client expectations and institutional authority.

This course is aimed at library and museum staff responsible for the appearance of printed materials ranging from simple case labels to elaborately illustrated catalogs. It will begin by examining expectations: What constitutes a document meeting library or museum standards? What fails? And why? The developing doctrine of typographic organization and design calls forth an evaluation of materials, tools, and processes.

With the computer's seemingly infinite choice of type faces and visual approaches, how can an institution's materials appear assertive, but not commercial; authoritative, yet not passé? How is the identity of a cultural institution to be achieved? The course dwells less on how to run available software than upon the question, "What should your next printed piece really look like in every detail?" Design problems are posed as student exercises, and considerable time will be spent evaluating examples of museum and library printing supplied by students, the instructor, and the Rare Book School collections.

Applicants, in their personal statement, should describe their present design, production, and/or administrative responsibilities, opportunities and aspirations -- mentioning topics they would particularly like to see covered by the course.

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Course History


Greer Allen taught this course annually since 1994.