Not Everything Dies

Why I Love Layout

My dad is a nature photographer. I grew up watching him edit his photos in Photoshop 6.0. As it turns out, his nerdy interest in Jerry Uelsmann, science fiction pulp magazines, William S. Burroughs, and cut-up techniques would influence my design aesthetic years later.

Like my dad, I had a desire to observe and capture everything around me. I always carried a novel, a notebook, and a sketchpad. I was obsessed with Kerouac and Ginsberg and fascinated by manatees, archaeological dig sites, Jupiter, and the search for extra-terrestrial life. I wanted to see beyond the ends of the earth, of what was as yet unknown.

In my late teens and early twenties, I started making digital fan collages for my favorite show, The X-Files. I diligently saved jpegs of Mulder and Scully, combed transcripts for episode quotes, used textured brushes and layered like crazy. Basically, my fandom taught me everything I needed to know about Photoshop.

All this to say, I think I inherited my dad’s eye. I’ve always been a visual learner, and a tactile or imagistic writer. The visual and the written… I don’t think I can separate the two. The comment written most often on my writing in school was “Whoa, dense imagery!” I’m also a dancer, so concerns about space, spatial relationships, and physicality inform my work as a designer, too.

I still write with pen and paper. I still use a paper planner. I still read books checked out from the library. And instead of being frustrated by GPS, I’d rather look at an honest-to-goodness paper map.

Mapping is one of my favorite things. Whether it’s sketching the design of a client’s future website, outlining the scope of a book review, or making a motivational collage of my personal and professional goals, there’s nothing like working with text and images—moving them around, drawing lines of connection—whether for myself, a client, or a friend.

When I’m in InDesign or Photoshop building a project for a client, I really do get excited. If you were to see me, I’m actually smiling… while nudging and blending and searching for the perfect font to evoke a client’s style or personality. I’m a writer, dancer, and designer with an eye for space, texture, balance, contrast, feel. I can see where you’re coming from.

And that’s why I love layout.