Saturday, May 20, 2006

Q & A 16 Art directors.


Do you have any suggestions for effectively communicating with art directors? They don't seem to understand words, and my editor and I don't understand little sketches. And why, oh why is the art director higher up the corporate ladder than my amazing editor who works twice as hard?

Evil Editor is pleased to see that you realize the editor should be at the top of the food chain, but he can think of no business in which the people at the top of the corporate ladder work harder than those at the bottom. Why, that would defeat the purpose of climbing the ladder, of reaching the top rung, where you can sit back and do nothing all day except figure out how to convert your company stock into cash before you inevitably drive the business into bankruptcy.

As long as art directors are entrusted with designing book covers, and as long as readers persist in believing that you can judge a book by its cover, art directors will be sitting pretty. As for communicating with someone who insists on seeing your creation not as a book, but as a sculpture you've botched, it always falls upon the more intelligent of two parties to learn the other's language if any communication is to take place. That's why people all over the world learn to speak English. And it's why you should get some crayons and fingerpaints, study hieroglyphics, and, when you must speak to your art director, refrain from using compound sentences.

7 comments:

Evil Minion 518 said...

I'd certainly listen to an author who bought me finger paints and crayons!

msjones said...

Hey, E2, run that spellcheck (see my e-mail re this) - it's most unseemly that a man who disses other people's writing is misspelling hieroglyphics.

Evil Editor said...

Thank you, favored minion.

When you type as fast as EE (96 wpm, and that's using only my thumbs), sometimes the right hand gets ahead of the left.

Let's see, i before e, except...

Of course, it should be clear to regulars that if Evil Editor cared about his minions' spelling, we'd have gotten through about five of these critiques by now..

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Yup - when you type fast, your fingers get ahead of your brain sometimes. Happens to all of us, especially if we don't take the time to re-read everything before we post it. Sucks, but hey - that's life. And it seems like it ALWAYS happens whenever we're pointing out someone else's error. That's what we call ironic.

My only problem with the art department (being unpublished) is why in the world don't they at least read the book or SOMETHING to tell them what the characters look like. I hate having a book about a redhead and she has blonde hair on the cover. Small little thing there, I know, but still annoying as hell.

Which brings me to another question: How much input DOES the author have after seeing the cover print? Should the author have a major issue, does the editor go to bat for him to try to fix it? Because, as EE pointed out, people DO judge the book by cover.

graphic designer tired of moron clients said...

If looking at a sketch and understanding it is beyond your reach, maybe you should consider the possibility that you are, shall we say, "visually challenged" and leave to the art to the professionals.

Virginia said...

Moron client here,

Just to clairify, I wasn't referring to full, thought-out sketches. No, it's the doodles all over an outline that take fifteen minutes to express "I want to superimpose the title over a pink trapazoid." I freely admit to being visually challenged; hence the request for communication tips. As a graphic designer, perhaps you could suggest a "Graphics for Dummies" book or something.

And, no, Brenda, the author has no say in the cover. There are very good reasons for this, the most important (from my point of view) being that art directors keep up with marketing trends and design covers to SELL MORE BOOKS. If blonds sell better, the cover gets a blond. The only big conflict I've had was when an art director insisted on a cover for a how-to book that showed a project that wasn't in the book. You wouldn't believe how many phone calls and meetings it took to get her to change her mind. But, yes, my editor went to bat for me.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Thanks, Virginia - answered both of my questions!

I'm glad they changed that cover on the craft book. As a former crafter, if I'd bought it for the cover project and it wasn't there, I'd be miffed. Glad to hear your editor won that battle for you (and for your readers!)