My name is John McWade. Because this is my first post, here’s a quick history.
I’m a designer, not a photographer. Early in 1985, I was the first person in the world to lay down my T-square and become a full-time “desktop publisher.” That meant that I was doing my design work entirely on a computer — a 9″-screen Macintosh — with a test version of Aldus PageMaker.
I’d been at it for months when, that summer in New York, Apple rolled out its “Macintosh Office,” a networked suite consisting of the Apple LaserWriter, Adobe PostScript, and Aldus PageMaker. All three were revolutionary. The press, impressed, said, “Yeah, this looks good, but is anyone actually using it?” To which Apple said, “Well, there’s this guy out in California . . .”
And my phone started to ring.
Things have not been the same since.
It took only five years for desktop publishing to democratize design. Its early adopters, with exceptions, were not designers. They were writers, editors, marketers and others who had design to do — newsletters, brochures, business stationery, whatever — but lacked the time, budget, or need for a professional.
Most had an affinity for design, too. But most did not have the skills.
Books and periodicals taught point and click. How to draw a curve, make a shadow, put a glow on something. This was helpful. They called it design, but it wasn’t. It was effects.
No one outside of school was teaching design. Typography. Page layout. The art of making a visual message beautifully and simply and clearly.
So we jumped in. We launched a small magazine titled Before & After, How to design cool stuff in January, 1990, to help the novice — the non-design professional — with graphic design. It was an immediate hit.
I’ve been at it ever since. In print, in books, online, in video (just starting this), and in the occasional live class. I love my work. The surprise has been that our little five-year project would turn into a career that continues to this day.
Brad asked if I’d do a post for photographers.
From a designer’s standpoint, the great thing about being a photographer is that you have great images to work with. So how about how to get a photo and type to coexist in the same small space, like on a business card? There’s a universal way to do it, which I’ll show you here, and once you have it down, you can elaborate pretty easily if you want.
(Above) Jayne Kettner’s business card had a clip-arty logo, a slogan, a swashy, calligraphic signature, and her business information, all scattered into various corners and places. This is common, and there are several problems with it. One is the scattering, which puts similar kinds of information in different places, with nothing to connect it. Two is the visual complexity; that is, the unnecessary tangle of lines. Three is that we can’t see her photos; her biggest asset is absent.
Here’s how to fix it. (more…)