April 3, 2003 / Design / Spring 2003 / Staff Management

The Great Cover-up

Written by Idea File Staff

Plan Ahead to Make Most of Design Meeting

The agenda at a summer yearbook workshop usually allows time for fun and games. Playing “beat the clock” with the cover designer, however, should not be one of them.

Each school usually has up to one hour to sit down and consult with a professional designer. To make the most of this time, participants should decide in advance what they want to accomplish and how they plan to do it, said Scott Pyle, creative services cover art manager for Walsworth Publishing Company.

“The workshop helps the school plan ahead and get started early,” he said. “We like for them to have the cover done and develop the theme that will carry throughout the book.”

The first step is to arrive at the meeting with a theme firmly in mind.

“Schools should not use the meeting with the designer to try to come up with a theme, which can be very time-consuming,” Pyle said. “We like them to meet as a class first and come up with a theme idea or direction. They can bring along samples of a graphic look they may have seen in a magazine, on TV or maybe in another yearbook. We also bring sample yearbooks from around the country that they may imitate or modify.”

It is helpful, although not necessary, to have colors in mind. “Colors are really important, and some schools are very traditional,” he said. “You can decide the colors in advance, but they can always be changed later before the yearbook is printed.”

Because it is difficult to make decisions by committee, Pyle recommends that only three to five people from each school — including the final decision-maker — meet with the designer.

“Everybody has their own opinion about what they want the book to look like, and having too many people there is inefficient,” he said. “It works best to include the adviser, the editor, the co-editor and possibly one or two others.”

In a small group setting, with a theme clearly in mind, the designer can let creativity take over.

“As designers, we like to shoot the moon,” Pyle said. “Our job is to help you execute your idea or theme. Sometimes, you may have a great theme, but the execution has been done by a lot of other schools. We can show you other options.”

The final step is for the sales representative to determine if the design concept will fit within the school’s budget.

“If it is too expensive,” Pyle said, “we can suggest less expensive ways to execute the same concept.”

Participants who come prepared will leave with everything they need to hit the ground running — a workable cover design and a practical plan for the coming year.

“What they do at workshops is develop a whole theme packet — cover, endsheets, division pages, everything,” Pyle said. “When they leave, they have as much done as possible. Everything has been hammered out before the first part of the school year.

They can take their theme back, have advisers go over and critique their layouts, make suggestions and tell the other staff members, “this is the direction we are going.'”

Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.