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Career Story: Art Director For A Children's Book Publisher

Art Director For A Children's Book Publisher

Job Title: Art Director

Type of Company: Small publishing company dedicated to building character in children through education.

Education: University of Montana, Nossi College of Art

Previous Experience: I worked as an art assistant for a publishing company and freelanced as a graphic designer.

Job Tasks: My key responsibilities are procuring art and photography which will be suitable for our publications. I work closely with the editors to make sure that we present a seamless package which looks good and also furthers our goal of enlivening children's minds. I then lay out or coordinate the layout of these materials with text and other visual elements.

Once the book is laid out, I oversee the production phase, which includes multiple proofs and revisions before a finally checking and double-checking of the technical details of digital publication. In other words, I make sure that the InDesign or Quark file will print well and look the way we think it should. This is probably the most time-consuming aspect of my job and the least enjoyable, but one that's unavoidable and essential. There are always complications and puzzles to be solved.

Visual problem-solving is my favorite part of my job. I love looking at a jumble of material, considering the potentials and pitfalls, then combing through and juggling it around till we come up with the best possible design. I find this aspect of the work extremely satisfying. Then, when I see a child unable to tear himself away from one of our books, I feel it's all been worth it.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the creative aspect and the problem-solving that I get to do.

My least favorite things include anything to do with legal contracts, licensing, etc. I am very careful to get it all right, but find it tedious and frequently feel guilty asking artists to sign away their rights for such a small fee. Hmmm. Also, fonts drive me nuts.

Job Tips:
1. Take as many courses as you can. There are tons of free online "webinars". 2. Read everything you can get your hands on about the subject. Design, software, typography, photography, copyright law and business management. 3. Pay special attention to to typography, as that is what will set you apart from the crowd.

Additional Thoughts: One thing I have learned (and wish I had learned earlier) is to separate yourself from your work. You need to be able to receive criticism in a constructive way. Otherwise, it's easy to feel insulted when someone tears apart or does not "get" your design. Then you miss big opportunities to improve your design.

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