Back in 1999 I got a job as trainee journalist for a national magazine about clay pigeon shooting. And it’s fair to say I was thrown in at the deep end. Coming from a sleepy East Yorkshire village and only 20 years old, I had to grow up fast. While I was there, I discovered these computers called “Apple Macintosh” and this software called “Quark Xpress”. It was all very intriguing. I soon learned that there are people, whose job it is to use these computers and this software to make the magazine. It had never occurred to me that someone had to actually think about where to put text and images on the page. I got hooked.
One day, someone put Quark Xpress on my computer, and I soon began to tamper with the layouts. When spreads returned from the designers I would move things around because, well, I thought it looked better done my way.
The creative side of my brain was ignited. I love art, and have always been able to draw. But when faced with a position at the EMAP academy for journalists, or a degree in Art & Design, I chose the latter.
Fast forward 20 years and I’m still thinking about how to arrange text and images so that it looks nice. Only now I’m doing it for businesses, and they pay me because they can’t do it. And it’s not just text and images I think about. I also think about logos, packaging, websites and interiors. And it’s not just where to put stuff either. I also think about what it’s saying, and how that might be perceived from a customer's point of view.
You see, over the years I’ve realised that graphic design isn’t just pretty pictures. It’s the art of visual communication. It’s the ability to decipher a customer’s requirements and convert that into a piece of commercial marketing. And graphic designers do things that you will never know about. They faff about with kerning. They balance the empty space with the busy space. They line things up. They spend far too long just staring at it. And they decide precisely how big the logo should be. Why? To help you look and sound your very best.