When watching the video about the progression and development of design, and thinking about designs for our chapbook and webpage assignments, I found myself thinking about my personal design aesthetic. On the one hand, I really like the simple, clean, and understated designs. These were the designs that developed when around the 50s and what contributed to the invention of Helvetica. There is an effortless appearance to these designs, which is appealing. However, I also found myself drawn to the more edgy, chaotic designs. These designs came about as a sort of rebellion to Helvetica and white space. These designs are very busy and messy and interesting. These designs will hold you attention for much longer whereas the simple designs are intentionally understated. The design choice depends on what the intended function is. Obviously, a stop sign needs to be straight-forward and simple. If it were chaotic and difficult to read…well, that would not be good. However, and advertisement for an edgy rock band should have an attitude or a strong vibe to it. Both design aesthetics have their place. It might be compelling to attempt to mix and match different fonts with what they normally are not matched with. For example, Times New Roman could be mixed with a mesh of edgy images. Viewers would probably be confused by it and therefore look at it longer, which in advertising is probably a good thing. I am not a designer, but it will be interesting to see what new things develop in the coming years.
In class we watched a video about the origin of the popular typeface Helvetica and about the development of design in general. I was already pretty familiar with Helvetica because it was the font of choice of the newsmagazine that I was on in high school. We chose to use Helvetica for our newsmagazine because it was clean, simple, and modern looking. Looking modern was important because we wanted to be appeal to a younger audience, aka the students. Many newspapers use a Times New Roman-type font or something similar because it is classic. However, those fonts tend to have an academic look. This is a good thing for high-brow, well-established papers such as the New York Times, but I personally prefer Helvetica. Helvetica is simple and non-intinidating, or non-threatening. Helvetica is more welcoming to the reader. Fonts are not something that I previously gave ant thought to. Once you become introduced to the world of design, however, it turns on a switch and you notice it constantly. I have noticed that Helvetica is the approachable font. Because Helvetica is so simple, it is now used for almost everything that we see in everyday life, like street signs for example. This could be a problem. No designer wants to use an over-used font. So designers will either have to stray away from using Helvetica, or think of new and interesting ways in which to use it.
Confession: I had never read a chapbook before this class. I had heard of them but never really came across one before. They reminded me of the literary magazine that my high school put out every semester, of which I worked on. Like the literary magazine, chapbooks are essentially low-budget publishing of art. Most commonly, chapbooks publish the work of undiscovered authors, writers who have yet to hit the big time but who are seeking to have their work in print.
Chapbooks are a great way for aspiring editors to get started as well. They still must go through the same process of acquisitioning work, editing that work, and then publishing. The main difference between chapbooks and regular books is the cost. Chapbooks are very inexpensive. Because chapbooks are cheap, one would think they would be popular for literature enthusiasts. This, however, is not the case. Chapbooks have very small circulation and hardly any profit is gained from them.
Chapbooks are often looked down upon, especially in comparison to big name book publishers. They are often made by inexperienced editors and the work inside chapbooks are usually done by undiscovered artists. And there isn’t much money in the budget, and money always helps. These are the negative attributes of chapbooks. One could argue, though, that these so called ‘negatives’ are actually positives.
Chapbooks do lack experience and money, but that in no way implies that the work is unsubstantial. True, in some cases it is, but some chapbooks are very special. Without expectations, a set of rules to follow, or a status quo, those making chapbooks have creative freedom. They can do whatever they like, which could lead to amazing art. Also, when we read chapbooks we are most likely reading the words of outcast writers, writers who are not in the New York publishing circle and therefore have different opinions and perspectives. Diverse voices are always a positive thing.
Confession: I had no idea who Lawrence Ferlighetti was until this class. I found him to be very interesting in the video. He is very eloquent in his speech even still and I could tell that he had led and interesting life and had much to say.
I had never really thought much about the origin of paperbacks. It makes sense that they were cheaper and so were made for those of middle/lower class. Ferlighetti was brilliant in his idea to open an all paperback bookstore. Books were cheap, and those who wanted to read were able. After all it should not be about the packaging but about the story itself, and Ferlighetti saw that.
Another inspiring thing about Ferlighetti was his rebellious attitude towards New York publishing. I knew of course that New York was the publishing capital. I never, however, thought of this as a negative thing or something with negative repercussions. Something that we have been discussing in this class is bias. Publishers are the ones who decided what stories are mass produced into our society. That is a major role to play because stories influence the culture of society and the society itself. So if all of these publishers are very similar people with very similar opinions, then it is probable that the stories within our society are not as diverse as they should be. Ferlighetti realized this problem and attempted to correct it. He sought out to publish stories that he believed to be important and he planted his business far away from New York in San Francisco, California.
One of the poems from the second half of ‘The 2010 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology’ that I found interesting was the poem ‘Green, How Much I Want you Green’ by Federico Garcia Lorca. I was able to really relate to this poem because in the poem the speaker or narrator is longing for spring to come and for the ‘green’ to come. As it is January, I too have this same feeling. I also want it to be spring and for the winter to be over. It is very depressing to walk around in the cold and darkness among dead trees. I liked this poem because I could relate to it, I also like it because Lorca uses the tools of imagery well. The passage, “Landscape of crystals rock salt and icebergs white trees, white grasses, hills forged from pale metals padlock and freeze me…” really conveys the image of winter, and the resulting coldness. Lorca succeed in painting strong mental pictures for his readers. I also find this poem interesting on a symbolic level. I do not believe that the poem is only about the different seasons, I believe that the two seasons represent something. Perhaps winter in the poem signifies any dark, lonely, or helpless feeling. It could even be representative of depression. If not depression, then certainly feelings of despair. Spring, however, represents hope. Spring and all things ‘green’ surely signify the good things on this earth. Maybe the message of this poem is to keep on going, one day at a time, through the bad because eventually something good will come, one just has to be patient. I believe that this is a poem about hope, and the promise of a better tomorrow. And that is a message that is worth writing about.
I have always been partial to the Romantic literary period and its authors and poets. The Romantics put a particular emphasis on the majesty of nature, and used nature as a means of conveying truths of human nature, thoughts, feelings, and the beyond. I suppose I relate to literary works from this period because my personal beliefs and spirituality are similar to this way of thinking. Some of my favorite poets include: John Keats, Lord Byron, and William Wordsworth. Wordsworth’s poem ‘Ode on Intimations of Immortality’ is one of my absolute favorite poems. I even have a portion of it memorized:
“Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass of glory in the flower we will grieve not but rather find strength in what remains behind in the primal sympathy which having been must ever be in the soothing thoughts that spring out of human suffering in the faith that looks through death thanks to the human heart by which we live thanks to its tenderness its joys its fears to me the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”
I have this excerpt memorized not only because I love it and think that it is beautiful, but also because I think it is a lovely philosophy to live by. The Romantic poets were able to utilize the powerful and evocative imagery of nature as a means of writing the truths of life in a beautiful way. Poetry should speak the truth, and it should do so in an artistic way. As an editor, poems of this sort would be what i look for. I want to publish literary works that are capable of instilling strong emotion and feeling, in a good way, into readers. I will want to publish things that can inspire people to keep on living and to do good things with those lives. At the very least, these literary works should provide a means of escape from reality, into a place of beauty. In the movie Dark Knight, Batman says that sometimes reality isn’t good enough. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded. I believe that this is the purpose of the written word.
My favorite poem from the 2010 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology was “The River,” and no it wasn’t simply because it was the first one. The poem had beautiful use of imagery. The author implemented different scenes in nature that almost anyone can relate to and therefore see vividly in their mind. We all know what twilight in summer looks and feels like, and we have all heard the sound of a cicada calling. So when reading these words, we see the picture that the author is painting. The author also uses diction nicely. “River” and “reaching” both start with the same letter and therefore give off a euphoric sound when positioned closely together and read aloud. The same is true for “ferries” and “fieldworks.” The word “ferries” is also well chosen because it not only works as the verb for the noun river, but it also reminds the reader of ‘fairies’ which leave the reader thinking about magic and beauty and bright lights sprinkling the field like fire flies. This one word choice adds to the overall majesty of the entire poem. Finally, and most importantly, the message and purpose of the poem is a good one. The second stanza of the poem places particular emphasis on the individual and solitude: “the only sound,” “one lost cicada calling to itself,” “the piping of a bird.” The repetition of the singular and the one gives off the impression that you are alone. The point that you, the reader, are alone is further dramatized by the gloomy tone with such lines as the cicada “calling to itself” and the bird “that will never have a name.” These things leave the reader feeling depressed and lonely. The tone changes in the last stanza. In the last stanza the poet uses the word “our,” unifying all of us readers and the poet himself. This leaves us with a feeling of hope, which is the purpose of the poem, to show us all that we are never truly alone.
In class we discussed the basic concepts of the publishing industry. This is what I took from it: The publishers trade the author for ownership of their idea in exchange for the means of releasing the author’s work to the public masses. So the publishers own an idea and not an actual material object. With the idea in the hands of the publishers, so to speak, they can then do with it what they wish, as long as they adhere to the qualifications of whatever contract the author has signed. The publishers work to make the story the best that it possibly can be. This work with the actual story might include such things as cutting some things, expanding on others, and making the story more coherent overall. And of course copy editing is done as well. All of this is done to make the written work more reader friendly. Making the work reader friendly also includes such decisions as the design and layout of the book. Things such as font, font size, margin size, etc are decided by the publishers. Designers also work to make an eye-appealing cover. The publishers find the best ways to package, market, and sell the product. The publishing industry is a business just like any other; they are looking to make money. The fact that the publishers make more money than the author does might seem unfair to some, but the fact is that without the publishers the author would be unable to share their work with the masses. Besides, there are many different people who work on one book, so the publishing fraction of the profits has to be split significantly. So the authors themselves receive the largest portion, as it should be. I had always wondered when a story ceases to be owned and becomes public property. We discussed this in class. An author sells their idea to a publishing company and the publishers own the rights to this idea as long as the book is in print. Once it goes out of print, then the rights return back to the author. The idea usually becomes public domain approximately 50-70 years after the creator has died. This is why one can buy the complete works of William Shakespeare and the full Sherlock Holmes series on a Kindle or E-book for $0.99 because neither the publishers nor the authors continue to receive royalties on these ideas. This is a nice segue into the hot-topic electronic reading device scandal. I have to admit that I was concerned about this matter. I have wanted to be a publisher for several years now, and to hear people saying that these devices are going to bring down the publishing industry was cause for concern. However, in class I was pleased to discover that this won’t necessarily be the case. Apparently actually manufacturing the idea into tangible books is not the valuable aspect for publishers, the idea itself is what is valuable and not the material book. So stories will continue to be bought by the public, they will just read them in a different way. And I personally believe that the material book won’t completely die out any time soon.
I am beginning this blog for my editing and publishing class. I am new to the blogging world, so everyone please bear with me. I wanted to take this class because my ambition is to be an editor for a book publishing house when I graduate. I would like to work in young adult fiction, which has been growing rapidly in recent years due to the Harry Potter series, The Inheritance series and, I write this somewhat grudgingly, the Twilight series. This probably goes without saying, but my favorite genre is fantasy, although I care for all types of fiction. I deeply love stories and I can’t imagine a better way to spend my life than by working to spread them to the masses. I am excited to share my opinions and look forward to reading the comments of others. Thanks for reading!