Friday, December 31, 1999

I may be the new in-house graphic designer!

I can't talk about this publicly, so I'm tucking this in my blog's archives. I told my boss at the Golden Goose that I'm decent with Photoshop, and he asked me to try my hand at designing a book cover for an upcoming textbook. The book contains chunks of text from thinkers throughout the ages: Darwin, Clausewitz, Goodall, Descartes, Eliade, King, Kennedy, Einstein, Gandhi, Douglass, Suzuki, you name it. The boss chose the title: Thoughts of Great Minds: From Reading to Writing. Not the most inspiring of titles, and the subtitle is a reference to what the students who use the book will be doing, i.e., reading the text, then writing an essay about what they've read. But the book's name is still serviceable, and I had a hand in compiling all the texts, in writing all the paraphrases of the texts, and in researching whom to consult re: obtaining permission to reprint some of the more recent extracts. Except for the Korean translations of the passages, I'm the primary force behind this textbook, so when my boss asked me to try my hand at designing a cover, I was delighted.

Background: we outsource things like cover art and interior illustrations to a designer that we've retained. The staffers at this company are used to doing art for children's books, but the textbook in question is more for high-schoolers, so it needs to be a bit more mature-looking. With that in mind, here's what the designer came up with, based on one of my boss's descriptions of what he wanted:

The boss had two thoughts on how he wanted the cover to go. First was a "brain motif," which you see realized, kind of, above. The idea was that the brain would signify "mind"—not an irrational thought at all. My own thought was to have the brain's outer edges be visible, surrounding the images of the luminaries found in the textbook. Instead, as you see, the designer went for a "radiating" approach that didn't strike me as artistically coherent. I also didn't like the color scheme or the rather childish font.

The boss's other thought was the one that I went with: a "cloud motif" in which the various luminaries would appear in a ghostly/misty sort of way, with the clouds abstractly representing the notion of "thought," and the images of the luminaries signifying the "great minds." I thought this sort of image made a lot more sense, aesthetically speaking, so I riffed off my boss's artistic premise and came up with this:

My boss was delighted! He told me he liked my design much better than the one done by his regular designer, so he's decided to go with my work instead of theirs. Not bad for yours truly, and now I have something new to put on my résumé: in-house graphic designer. My piece was apparently convincing enough to get my boss thinking that he'd like me to do this sort of thing from now on. I'm happy to make myself useful to the company... especially if this guarantees me my promised raise next year!

ADDENDUM: yeah, yeah—some of you will wonder whether this new duty comes with extra pay. As far as I know, the answer to that question is no, because I'd be doing design work during regular office hours, not as something above and beyond the call of duty. But if the work requires me to stay overtime, I might end up receiving either comp time or a per-project fee. We'll just have to see what the future holds.



John (I'm not a robot) said...

Hey, in corporate life it is all about adding value. Good job!

Kevin Kim said...

Thanks, John! We're all about the value-added Kevins here.

Surprises Aplenty said...

Nice work, Kevin! I hope your name is listed somewhere prominent in the book, too.

Kevin Kim said...

Thanks, Brian.

Charles said...

Why are you flushing all those great thinkers down the toilet?

Kevin Kim said...

Fuckers deserve it.

The Maximum Leader said...

I prefer the designers choice. Only because Winston is in it.

Now if you could add Winston to yours...

Kevin Kim said...


I'm wondering whether you hovered your cursor over the image of my book cover to read the title text.


I love that pic of Winston, as it shows him doing the two-fingered salute. I had asked my boss whether it'd be OK to sneak that onto the cover, given that most Koreans have no idea what that gesture means.

I had obtained all the photos for each of the 25 thinkers featured in the textbook. The designer incorporated the photos she wanted; my boss sent me a document that had a more limited selection of photos, i.e., no Winston among them. That's the document I worked from, fortunately or unfortunately, when I designed my cover. Sorry about Mr. Churchill's lack of inclusion on my cover, but by all means do enjoy the Korean designer's suck-ass cover design.