Designing book covers- why I like it

As a graphic designer most people automatically think that I only work on making websites look great. While I do love this aspect of my job, I also like some variety in the type of projects I work on. That is why anytime I have the chance to design a book cover I always jump at the opportunity. Graphics for a website and designs for a book cover are always projects that are completely different and this helps me stay engaged in my work.

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When I am designing a book cover I get the chance to get lost for a little bit in another world. Since the cover usually has to show some aspects of the plot, I get to read a short summary of the story, if not the entire book, and I have recently discovered that it is a great way to relax. Even though every book is not from a genre I usually like, enough of them are to make it well worth my time to read.

 

I also love the freedom that comes with designing a cover. While there are a few guidelines I have to follow, mainly that the cover must have something to do with the book. I do have a lot more freedom in the design than I do with a website. With fewer restrictions on the design I can really let my “creative juices” flow, and this is beneficial for all aspects of my career. I’ve learned that after a while my graphic designs can start to look a little “flat”, and this is never good for business. My clients certainly don’t want to pay for a graphic design that looks the same as everyone else. It is definitely not uncommon for me to use some of the ideas I got from creating a book cover on my next graphic design project.

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The other main reason I enjoy designing book covers is that the deadlines are often less stressful. Graphic designers are almost constantly under pressure to meet a deadline, and if you are dealing mainly with online clients you already know that the time frames can change and it is usually not in your favor. A design for the book cover can be easily completed before the novel is finished, and most editors will hire you for the job several months in advance. Speaking of advances that is just one more reason to design the occasional book cover since most of these jobs will pay you before the project is finished. I can’t tell you how many times this has made it possible for me to send my monthly bills in on time.

 

If you’d like to try it out yourself, you can get started with these tips.

A Short Story on How I Injured My Leg

I did it. I hurt my knee while sparring with a friend, and since I have to recover now, I found myself with too much time on my hands. So, as a natural consequence, I decided to document the leg injury I suffered, so that others could take after my cautionary tale and avoid getting themselves in the same unpleasant situation as I did. Unpleasant is too little a word to describe the excruciating pain I experienced when I injured myself, but let’s just leave it at that, or my confidence will just take another hit.

le1I was sparring with my friend, Stephen, when it happened. Since I am a big fan of moving a lot when I box, I am quite aware of how important is for a boxer to have their feet in constant motion, so they do not risk being too static and getting a punch that would send them to the floor in an instant. Let’s make things clear. Stephen is not to blame for what happened, but rather my rashness and lack of attention when I should have been focused on what I was doing. Somehow, I miss-stepped at some point and I landed on my right leg. I was just trying to move my weight from one knee to the other and it happened. It was quite an awkward landing, too, and by the look on Stephen’s face and the strange popping sound my knee made, it must have hurt a lot. I cannot recall the actual moment, but, after that, it really really hurt.

le2Lucky me, I only got a stretched ligament, nothing serious, according to the doctor. For me, it is the first serious injury I have ever suffered, so it is a huge thing for me. So, right now, I am in physical therapy and I must follow the good doctor’s directions to the letter if I want to get well soon. I intend to go back to practicing martial arts, but now I know that I am going to pay better attention to what I do if I do not want a repeat performance of what just happened.

There are a few things I learned from my experience, and I am going to share them with you.

  1.      If I want to be fast, I need to train more. I think my injury was a matter of believing myself to be faster than I actually am … and my injury was a wakeup call like no other.
  2.      My friend is much more experienced than I am and that is bad for me. Apparently, novices are those who get injured more often because they have no idea how to properly control their punches.
  3.      And last, you must talk to your sparring partner about how hard you two are going to train. I was obviously going at it too hard and that is why my injury happened.

I hope my experience will help you avoid some injuries in your training. Of course, I don’t expect to suffer no other injuries in the future, but I surely know more now about what I can and I cannot do.

How is it to be a graphic designer?

Blogging is a form of connecting people nowadays, or so I see it. My name is Mike Lenke and I’m a graphic designer, a profession that requires me to spend a great deal of my time behind a screen. If you’re a graphic designer too, you’ll understand it when I say that it is difficult to reach out to other professionals in the field for advice and assistance, as we are most of the time head over heels buried in our work and not very communicative, especially if we’re asked to open ourselves on other matters that are not our current projects.

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Graphic design is one of those jobs that you must choose out of passion and, even though you may go through moments when you want to smash your laptop against the wall while practicing it, you have to cling on to that passion to keep going.

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As a graphic designer, if you are not an organized person, your number one enemy will be deadlines – they will follow you like a plague from one project to another and you that you will never have free time to do anything else but working on your project and that you’ll probably take the shape of your computer chair and won’t be able to ever come back to your human form.

There’s no standard recipe that you can use to be successful and eliminate stress from your life when you start a career in this field. If there are a few tips I would give you after a couple of years in this domain, these are really simple:

  • Accept that your life from the moment you get hired will be a non-stop roller-coaster. You will be faced with deadlines continuously, some of them more relaxed, others excruciating.
  • Schedule a working volume day by day and include in it: possible moments when you don’t feel like working, technical issues, creativity blockages and oversleep issues. Realizing that you have chosen a career that requires you to work with multiple aspects of your personality: creativity, organization, dealing with stressful situations, accepting negative feedback or letting others participate in the way you do your work is the only way to still be alive at the end of a long day.
  • Stick to the schedule.
  • Don’t overthrow your personal life for your career. Of course, this is an advice you could give to anybody who is trying to build a reputation in any domain but, some fields have a higher potential of turning you into a work addict than others. Graphic designers don’t work on a 9 to 5 schedule. They mostly have individual projects and they make their own working program. This can be a positive thing, meaning that you don’t have somebody telling you when and how to work, but can have  a negative side, that of poor time organization which can lead to weeks in which you feel that you need to work constantly, without noticing any significant progress.
  • Don’t let yourself be disappointed if your ideas are not always of use. It’s true that graphic designers need to be creative in terms of technical methods they employ and they have a wide spectrum of choices when it comes to making a brand new design, but, sometimes, your clients will have strict norms and specific ideas on the wanted project which will minimize your contribution to the final result. If you have several projects like that, you may experience a sense of disappointment, thinking this job is nothing like you’ve imagined it to be. However, remember that, in time, it gets better and you’ll be able to say no to jobs that do not allow you to use your creativity or that you don’t feel you would like spending time working on.

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I can proudly say that I’m not (anymore) an addict to my profession and I have other passions as well, about which I’d like to open up on this blog. I love working out, not only for the sake of bodybuilding or losing weight, but for a variety of reasons and I also enjoy traveling. In addition to sharing my knowledge on graphic design, I would very much love to share with you my travel and workout experiences as well.