I’m a graphic designer and illustrator and I’ve been in publishing ever since writing and illustrating my first story as a child, a hand-penciled picture book about my favorite rubbery rabbit, a toy given to me by my dentist for not freaking out over my first dental exam. Had he given me a velveteen rabbit my life might have turned out differently, but as it is, I’m pretty happy with things so far.
As a publications designer I got absorbed in all the precious little details, like casting copy with my bright yellow Haberule, and meticulously cleaning my finicky Rapidograph pens. I still have my waxing machine, but I don’t think I can find wax blocks for it anymore. I worked as an Art Director on several magazines and had a side business doing information graphics, where I learned that I loved taking dry statistical data and visually interpreting it in ways that can engage the reader.
When I got my first computer, a Mac II, it was like finding what I was born for. I’d gotten a used one from a desktop publishing company that was upgrading its equipment and they hadn’t wiped the hard drive, so I had Pagemaker and FreeHand, although without any manuals. Amazingly, I was able to pretty much figure things out for myself and before too long decided to spring for a legit copy of FreeHand. I wasn’t expecting it to be delivered until the weekend, but when it arrived on a Thursday by surprise, I called in a sick day the following day and spent the next 72 hours living in front of my computer, learning the ins and outs of what was to become my favorite program for many years. Within a couple of years I was teaching a course on computer graphics at the Boston Center for Adult Education and my job as a textbook designer at a major publishing house evolved into being the in-house illustrator.
Once computers became commonplace in publishing production, deadlines began to accelerate and work habits had to change to keep up with them, but I’d never want to go back to the days of cutting amberlith and trying to ink over areas that used to have waxed type stuck to them! The only way to stay sane was to learn how to get the computer to do as much of the work for you as possible in order to free your time for the fun stuff, like drawing and designing. And that’s what I hope to share here, so pull up a chair and settle in. Welcome!