Above: Short video discussion of what the new “By Design: Creating the Intentional Page” contains. If it doesn’t show up here you can view it on YouTube.
Today I’m getting the word out about my latest online class—“By Design: Creating the Intentional Page.”
It has turned out to be a monster class with over 30 lessons built with over 7 hours of video demos and instruction.
But when I step back and think about the whole thing, I can say, “yeah, that’s about right,” because the class is built from a one-day workshop that I have offered since 2001 at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. And whenever I taught that class I remember coming home and thinking “that’s a lot of information, man I love books.”
For me, what’s great about the online class is that while it’s a monster class in content it’s available for $39.99. I can do this because I made the decision to open all the lessons at one time and let people sign up whenever they want—offering the class as self-guided.
My usual attention to detail on the videos and written materials for class went into hyper mode. I wanted to be sure that everything people might have questions about would be covered. This meant redoing or extending some of the videos and adding more sections in the class—something you can’t do in a live class because at some point people are going to have to go home.
The online version of the class also allowed me to expand the examples I show as there are no boxes of books for me to carry to a classroom.
To make the class even richer I decided that I would participate in the class every Friday through November. I’ll be looking over student projects and answering student questions. My goal in participating is to create a PDF of Frequently Asked Questions that students can refer to in their notebooks. (That’s something that I do in all my online classes.)
What’s Different about This Online Class from the In-Person Class?
Well you won’t have to hear my impassioned lecture about the importance of printing and the Press in American Democracy—though I do give it a passing nod in one of the written pieces—in my discussion of zines I believe! And you won't have to hear my discourse on the importance of books to the world in general as well as my long digressive discussion of the centuries-long history of urban sketching and the Grand Tour. (I really do get off on tangents if the camera is not running!)
Also we don’t make a specific in-class project as we did in the in-person class. Instead we do something even better. I layout projects and exercises that you can work on for each lesson so that you can absorb the concepts in your own time. You can savor and work with the aspects of design which speak to you. If something seems more difficult or even counterintuitive to the way you work you can return to it again and again. Because of the inter-related nature of many of the topics in this class I know that you will find new understanding after your first pass through the lessons when your return to review.
I also provide an overview of the production process so that students interested in making artist’s books or printed materials (journal facsimiles and themed books using art from their journals and sketchbooks) can dive in and begin to have some immediate success, which will allow them to venture into the more complex projects.
The online class also contains two design segments from my popular Strathmore Visual Journal Class. First seen in the 2011 inaugural season these lessons are only available in this class. I talk about layout and also working with fold out pages. I demonstrate how to work with collage materials. I even show you ways to tip in and trim decorative papers.
And while the class is self-guided I will to be hosting occasional live-webinars where students can write in questions in real time so that I can provide answers and suggestions. This type of interaction is what I love most about teaching so I wanted to make sure that there is a way to do this in this class.
Since registration is open and people can join in at any time these webinars will be archived and become part of the class' resources. Students joining the class later can still access this information.
Why I Love Design and This Class?
I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have a book in my hand. It might be a printed book, it might be a journal, but there has always been a book. This is the class where I get to share what is wonderful about books with the students. I do that by helping them to understand the book inside and out—its structure and its parts. For every profession there is a vocabulary that lets you into a deeper understanding of how it functions. I believe that’s what the study of design does for people interested in books.
Before we had printing presses monks copied out manuscripts one at a time. They followed conventions for line width and height of lines of text to fit the page based on various divisions of the space. These were all ways to organize and present information—to make information clearer, to communicate. And of course the monks illustrated those words. Many of their conventions for handling what goes on the page and where have lasted into the age of printing, and now into the digital world. It is natural therefore to look at the printed page these practitioners influenced to understand how these conventions can help us with the handmade visual page as well.
At base humans need to communicate, and the written and printed word has allowed us to do that, to create empathy and understanding, to battle injustice, to share enjoyment of simple moments of existence. Sure there have been times and individuals who have tried to undermine the utility of the book, or subvert its positive attributes to propagandize and worse. But the basic premise of the printed word standing as an honest vehicle for understanding and connection keeps coming back. It isn’t strange to me that as we move forward in the digital age more and more people pick up a blank book and start to fill it with observations of their lives. Call me “book-myopic” but I think this speaks directly to the interdependency between printed and handwritten word for practitioners of either, and our need to connect with each other clearly and honestly.
So it seems only natural that we look at the page and consider how we want that page to be. It’s only natural that we make intentional choices about the arrangement of our art and our text to best communicate with others—or even simply to delight ourselves.
The art of the book is not about rigid rules dictating our creativity. It’s about learning rules and conventions which are helpful to get us to a level of communication, and then applying our unique creativity to set a course for where we want to go with our page.
I believe the topics I cover in this class create a foundation for any visual journaling, sketching, or artist’s book projects (hand made or printed) you might do in the future. I believe the class will inspire you to think beyond the blank page. Not with trepidation but with excitement and anticipation.
I look forward to seeing what you do with your pages.