paul bowman works as a graphic designer, illustrator, and sometime editor in digital and print media.
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Program book production, Environmental Workshops
For this client’s annual series of one-day training offerings, designing and producing print programs for the events was the core of a multi-role contract over several years. As the workshops were expanding in the N. American market and to cities around the globe, I redeveloped what was handed to me as a word-processor-based job, refining the product through ongoing process improvements and several redesigns.
It’s in the nature of this client’s high-event-volume business that most print orders for programs are of very small quantity, generally under 50. Though the books were a relatively utilitarian product in many respects, intended ultimately for note-taking, we aimed for consistency at a level of quality appropriate to use by professionals.
In the course of my work with the client, its business grew to include events held in cities on five continents, printing with local shops in all overseas and many of the domestic cases. Of necessity, files could rarely be sent to printers nearer than much above a week in advance of the event date.
Navigating the issues arising from this combination of conditions was among the more significant challenges the work presented.
Shown, a few remainder books brought back for examination from international events.
For both the N. America and overseas-market program books, design priorities were a clean appearance, to serve rather than compete with sponsor ads and information, and a practical, readable organization and typographic sensibility suited to users mainly in science and engineering professions.
In the U.S. and Canada, a further primary design constraint was the more variable, less predictable character of schedule and presenter info to be included in each book. This meant need for a layout that could flex somewhat on key pages without compromising the open, intuitive feeling we wanted to maintain throughout.
Differing proportions of the books for N. America (ANSI dim., 8.5 × 11) and for workshops in Europe and most other markets (ISO dim.) meant that there would be distinct basic layouts from the point when the client began business overseas, though the programs used in all markets were alike in outline. As sponsor partnership structure and event setup for the workshops also diverged between N. America and overseas markets, content requirements for the books in either category remained separate, and design of the books continued to evolve on slightly different paths. Stronger emphasis on generous space and the regulating effect of an underlying grid in the ISO books than in the ANSI books was one result.
Efficient production called for book layout based on a fairly simple grid, allowing for uncomplicated typographical adjustment as occasion arose, in both the ANSI and ISO designs. The added need for flexibility of the N. America books led me eventually to a still simple, but variable, grid with overlaid 6- and 7-column options.