I started learning how to be a graphic designer 5 or 6 years ago, when I started helping out the UW Textual Studies Department with promotional posters for visiting speakers. Visual design has a definite learning curve (as does working with Photoshop and InDesign, my preferred tools) — the best way to get better at it is to design things. I haven’t always had time to do so — none of my official positions call for me to design steadily — but I like to think that I’m becoming fairly good at it, for an autodidact.
I also think that graphic design is an important subject for digital humanists to be mindful of. This is partly because often enough, we’re making visual objects — and there are aspects of user interface design that have less to do with tech, and more to do with thinking about readers. I also believe that design is how we communicate with each other. Thus, it’s not just that a picture is worth a 1,000 words; it’s that sometimes, a picture is much more effective than 1,000 words. This is especially worth considering in academic settings, where I see lots of people experiencing text fatigue.
You don’t have to take an expensive class to start thinking about design, either. One of my favorite sources for guidance and inspiration is graphic designer Chip Kidd’s latest book: Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design.
This spring, my colleague Tyler Fox and I tried out holding Digital Humanities Office Hours on alternate Thursdays. Office hours are one of the services that participants in the Demystifying Digital Humanities workshops consistently ask for — but we didn’t get the participation that we’d hoped for. Part of that is spring quarter fatigue, but I also think that it’s because I didn’t promote the events very well — and in anticipation of trying again this fall, I whipped up the following images last night.