I am very lucky to have a close relationship with my readership, through Twitter and email. This manifests itself in a number of ways. Sure I get tweets, but I also get direct questions and requests from my readership who want some specific advice. I do my best to accommodate them and help where I can. In one instance I advised a reader to sort his portfolio out. He did. Eighteen months later he arrived at my door and presented his portfolio. I gave him a job. That all worked out very well – for both of us.
But that isn’t why I wrote my books on graphic and web design. For that we have to go back a long way.
Picture this: a pub in Fitzrovia, circa 2008. After work beers with the Head of Design and Brand for Help the Aged, a certain Mr Harry Ward, the conversation was always about design. Help the Aged (now Age UK) had been through a re-brand – not by me.
With no sour grapes, I explained and we discussed the ‘omissions’ and oversights of the new brand and its implementation. Harry said, ‘You should write a book about what you know’. What do I know compared with the likes of Michael Johnson and Michael Bierut? What could I offer to a potential global readership that could not be taught by the branding and graphic design books on the market?
So, I set about reading them all. And the one thing I found was, they all did the same thing and that was give examples (mostly their own) of how they delivered a design project – but not how to do it. At the time I had been in business a mere ten years, but, with 18 years’ experience under my belt, I had been through the mill and if you pardon the pun, knew my onions.
There was a gap in the market, write a book about doing the job yourself, teach someone who knows nothing, teach someone who knows something and teach someone to be an expert.
This premise was not a ‘Dummies Guide to Graphic Design’ – that book should never exist – but a guide to becoming an expert in your field.
And so, armed with this premise, I sat by the pool in Majorca and frankly ‘bashed it out’. What a mess it was. A Pooterish evocation of my design journey. Or, as I felt at the time, the writing of a twat.
But with the sunshine, the freshly picked lemons and the odd G&T, Know Your Onions Graphic Design was taking shape.
But who would publish it? Turns out – nobody. The response was, ‘There are too many graphic design books out there and this one isn’t any different’. But it was.
A chance trip to Liverpool and a visit to a book shop piqued my interest in an Amsterdam publisher focusing on design and creative subjects – BIS Publishing.
A colleague, Bairbre, prepared a submission and as they say, the rest is history. Except it wasn’t. It was the beginning of a writing journey that I am still on today.
So, what happened next?