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I’ve worked on a variety of interesting projects over the years. Since publishing technology evolves rapidly, much of the effort in keeping up-to-date involves self-education, experimentation, and good amount of trial-and-error.
Every project is unique in its particular way, and clients have come to rely on my cross-disciplinary knowledge, problem solving skills, and adaptability to to the situation at hand. Here are a few examples of the work that I have done.
The ACE Total Certification Challenge
The Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) programme has been around since the 1990s. Becoming ACE-certified in a specific Adobe application is achieved by passing a rigorous proctored examination. In 2001, there were ten different ACE certifications available: Acrobat, After Effects, FrameMaker, GoLive, Illustrator, InDesign, LiveMotion, PageMaker, Photoshop and Premiere.
I decided that it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could pass all ten exams in less than one year. This was complicated by the fact that I didn’t know video editing and animation at the time. Having no access to training resources, I taught myself the applications that I didn’t already know.
I started by taking and passing After Effects in August 2001; I finished with PageMaker in March 2002. The whole exercise took about seven months – well under the year that I had allocated to reach my goal.
The InDesign User Groups
The original version of InDesign was released in 1999 as replacement to Adobe’s older PageMaker page layout application. It was received with little notice, since QuarkXPress was already well-established in the industry.
InDesign did have several interesting new features, including close integration with Illustrator and Photoshop, and support for complex graphical transparency in its second major release during 2001. However, there were few resources available to those interested in trying out the application. So a group of us assembled in Manhattan in 2001 to found the New York InDesign User Group.
The user group afforded people the opportunity to learn more about InDesign, and to discuss how best to integrate it into existing publishing workflows. The group was popular from the beginning. When I moved to Chicago in 2002, we set up a user group there – followed by another group after I moved back to Los Angeles in 2003.
Today, there are more than eight-five InDesign User Groups in three dozen countries around the world. And InDesign is now the de facto standard in page layout. I continue to appear as a regular speaker at meetings.
Adobe JumpStart Programme
During the early days of InDesign, Adobe decided that it would be a good idea to increase adoption of the software in everyday publishing workflows. To do so, a plan was devised to help critical companies by providing the necessary software, training and follow-up support required to make InDesign the page layout tool of choice. It was called the JumpStart Programme.
Since Adobe didn’t have enough staff on-hand to deal with the project, I was commissioned to work with a series of important companies making the transition from QuarkXPress to InDesign. We started with companies who sell the everyday products and services upon which people depend. Then we worked with their design studios and advertising firms. Next, we dealt with the publishers in whose newspapers and magazines the advertisements were placed. Finally, we worked with printing companies to ensure that they could handle the InDesign Files being sent to them.
Over a five year period, I helped dozens of companies in many industries make the move to InDesign. The outcome of the JumpStart project was highly successful: InDesign is the dominant page layout application worldwide, and has been considered the industry standard for the past decade.
Professional DHTML Website
Before the advent of the evolving HTML5 standard, the World Wide Web spent more than a decade stuck with the unsatisfactory HTML 4 format. It lacked many of the capabilities that designers needed. And perhaps the biggest problem was that contemporary web browsers would render the same code differently.
Many web designers found workarounds to the inconsistencies of the HTML 4 browsers. Two popular approaches included rendering large graphics of everything (including text) and making extensive use of Adobe’s Flash technology for dynamic media and animation. When I decided to overhaul my own website, I had to decide which method to choose.
When I demonstrated my website to some colleagues, they were convinced that it had been built using Flash. Many of the techniques that I used preceded common practices used in HTML5 websites by nearly a decade, and the site stands as an example of my dedication to open standards.
Adobe Creative Suite Launch
By 2002, Adobe’s three print-oriented products – Illustrator 10, Photoshop 7 and InDesign 2 – were sufficiently compatible with one another to allow for closer integration. The development of a content management system called Version Cue promised further possibilities. The result was the original release of the Adobe Creative Suite: a combination of Acrobat, GoLive, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop and Version Cue.
The Creative Suite project was a closely-held secret until its public announcement in September 2003. I helped train Adobe’s international staff in preparation for the release of the suite – this included travelling to London and Edinburgh at short notice. Creative Suite subsequently went on to be a great success for the company.
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company was one of the first companies to adopt widespread use of digital publishing tools. Illustrator and Photoshop are favourites amongst the creative staff, and digital versions of the company’s artwork are used for a myriad of purposes.
My involvement with the company centred around a division called Disney Consumer Products, who are responsible for producing all artwork licensed to third parties. Over a few years, I developed and delivered customized training in Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign specifically designed to fulfil the unique workflows used by the company staff.
Mattel has one of the largest installed user bases of Illustrator in the world. Their artists are given great latitude to design specialized work to best compliment their products.
For several years, the company operated a special training centre where both creative and corporate staff could receive customized and structured classroom training. I was responsible for delivering the majority of the Adobe application training, primarily covering Acrobat, Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop.
Condé Nast Publications
Condé Nast Publications started its conversion from QuarkXPress to InDesign around 2005. I was called in to help their West Coast office with the process, including the staff responsible for publishing Architectural Digest and Bon Appétit magazines.
Part of the challenge was that Condé Nast relied on the Quark Publishing System, a content management system (CMS) that needed to be replaced with an InDesign equivalent. The solution was to use a combination of InDesign, InCopy, and SoftCare’s K4 CMS system. The change in systems also afforded the chance to produce new publication templates.
The project was divided into a four parts: implementing the publishing workflow, training the art staff InDesign, training the copy editors InCopy, and working with the publication staff to as they adapted to the new system. The project was a success, and set a basis for the conversion of other company titles.
Motor Trend Magazine
Motor Trend is the largest circulation magazine published by Source Interlink Media. Its workflow conversion from QuarkXPress to InDesign was used as a critical test to determine whether the company’s dozens of other titles would go through the same process.
Given the special nature of the project, I took great care in determining an ideal publication workflow. The scope of the project called for a simple conversion to InDesign. I planned and implemented a more ambitious workflow that allowed for greater flexibility, and would prepare the publication for future media formats.
After having trained the Motor Trend staff and helped them acclimatize to their new software, I proceeded to built a set of magazine templates that was based upon the art director’s approach to design. In addition to preparing InDesign templates, I made a set of compatible InCopy templates for the writers who needed to work with their copy live in the layout. The templates were also retrofitted for XML support that would allow content in the print publication to be reused online.
Source Interlink Media
Source Interlink Media is a publisher of many specialist magazines, including Automobile, Sail, Shutterbug, Surfer, Surfing, Powder, Bike and Skateboarder. These publications are located around the country: from New England and Florida to California. Each magazine operates independently, supported by a universal production and IT group.
Over the years, I have provided ongoing training, consulting and support to Source Interlink Media, starting with the company’s workflow transition from QuarkXPress to InDesign. More recently, I have helped magazine staff prepare for publishing their content to tablet formats using Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite.
Adobe Freelancer & Influencer Programmes
When the highly successful InDesign JumpStart programme was complete, Adobe combined it into their Freelancer programme. This newer programme served a variety of purposes, including using third-party professionals like myself to work directly with the company’s customers when needed.
I have also been a member of the Adobe Influencer programme since 2007. Over the years, Adobe has recognized individuals and professionals who have had a significant impact on the creative community. The Influencer programme acts a form of outreach to better connect the company with the users of its products and technologies.
The Fallbrook Companies
Although design is not my primary concentration, I was asked to create a set of business cards for a division of the Fallbrook Companies. The project involved using existing logo marks, and trying to minimize the cost of printing through efficient design. After a few similar projects, we turned to a more comprehensive challenge of a unified corporate identity.
This project is a work in progress. An initial style guide defining logo marks, typographic standards and colour systems was built. Plain language rules for content used in company materials were established. Cost-effective stationery and other print materials have been produced for various company divisions. Websites and other online content have been partially implemented.
The purpose of the project is to unify the disparate company divisions with a consistent identity covering both content and visual design. The results so far has saved Fallbrook thousands of dollars in design, consulting and marketing expenses.
Professional HTML5 Website
In an attempt to prepare myself for the formal release of the HTML5 specification, I embarked on an overhaul of my professional website. As with previous versions of the site, I set a simple rule: that it should be based upon the open HTML and CSS standards.
HTML5+CSS3 has complex, but powerful features. A critically important goal was to ensure that all content was semantic, and would be universally accessible to anyone with disabilities. Another challenge was to produce a flexible design that would work on a wide variety of devices – from the limited space of a mobile phone screen to the spacious desktop of a professional workstation.
The result is what you see before you. A continual experiment in progress, this website demonstrates many of the promising new features of the HTML5+CSS3 standards. One example is the use of embedded typefaces; another is a multi-column layout that collapses into a single column when space is limited. The whole website is defined entirely in relative measurement units. A unique feature of the site is its ability to flexibly hold a standard typographic measure.
When I redesigned the site, there were few publishing tools available for working with HTML5+CSS3. Of those that existed, none had all the features that I required or produced the simple clean code that I wanted. Consequently, I had to code the entire site myself by hand, relying on the previous experiments of other coders.
As a work in progress, this website will continue to evolve along with the emerging HTML5+CSS3 standards and HTML5-compliant web browsers.