The One Where I Return to the Internet, Again

Hello. I come to you this time not with apologies or excuses for my random disappearance, but with an explanation of my planned absence. Yep. You read that correctly, it was planned! I didn’t announce it but I planned it. (Though, it is probably not a coincidence that I planned it before my entry for The Goblet of Fire, as I will explain in the next entry, which will be that one.) I probably should have announced it but I didn’t want to give myself a date to be back by, I wanted to come back when I felt ready to.

In May, I left the world of commuting to and from London, working for a publisher and living in pretty little Oxfordshire. I had a big life change, and I needed time to get used to it.

Back in April, I was offered a job designing t-shirts in the West Midlands (book-themed, politics, pop culture, sport, you name it, and I probably do it). It seemed fun so I went for it. The location meant that I was able to move in with my long-suffering other half (long-suffering because he has to deal with me 24/7 now). I’ve been working there for three months now and the creativity is fab, it’s evolved from just t-shirts to stationery and social media and all sorts of things I didn’t think I would be doing. I even designed some wrapping paper!

My publishing job was the first job I ever really had so this is both the first time I’ve had a job move but also the first time I have moved in with a partner – everything in my life changed all at once, it wasn’t quite as overwhelming as I thought it would be.

In July, after over a year and a half of lessons (and a whole lot of emotions), I passed my driving test first time! I moved my beautiful car up to the West Midlands in August, and had the shock of my life when I dealt with my first really steep hill. Luckily, I’ve got the hang of them now, after a little bit of self doubt and wondering why, oh why, they had let me pass my test.

A bit later in July, I decided to embark on a journey. A Slimming World journey. If you follow my Tumblr, you may have seen some body image posts in the past. I’ve struggled with my body for a long time, lost lots of weight in short periods of time by being very, very unhealthy and then put it back on again and then some when I got comfortable. I’ve resolved not to do that anymore. Slimming World is excellent, I am a fair way away from my target but I feel healthier and I am eating excellent food. I may post about my food at some point. I have since set up an Instagram devoted to my SW journey, it’s mostly food, but if you want to follow it, you can find it here.

What else has happened? I’m currently working on my second bit of wedding editing of the year, the third will come in November. Both weddings were lovely and I may post about them in the future.

All in all, I’ve been super busy, and I finally feel like my life is settling into a routine, and blogging can be part of it again.

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On being grateful

Over the last week, my often-mentioned, very talented friend Mike Medaglia announced his next book in the wonderfully successful One Year Wiser series. The simply and aptly named One Year Wiser: A Gratitude Journal does what it says on the tin. It is a journal that allows you space to write one years’ worth of things you are grateful for alongside quotes and other fun things.

And that’s what poetry is. A human attempt to comprehend and share personal experiences of the things that exist just beyond our perception and comprehension.
Mike Medaglia on Poetry and Wonder from The Mindful Life Illustrated

This announcement, along with Mike’s Mindful Life Illustrated Elephant Journal posts on all things mindfulness, gratitude and generally living well, spiritually and mentally, has made me think of all of the things I am thankful for. Well, actually, the thing that triggered my thinking was a beautiful sunset on the way home from work but then I was reminded of Mike, then I matched that with a video I watched last night by Carrie Hope Fletcher and then that spiralled into everything else and so we ended up here. You and me, on this blog.

If you’ve read Mike’s writing, you know that it has the power to make you think about things, really think about things (and if you haven’t, you should). And so, thinking about things, I am. So, without further ado and pomp, I present to you:

A little ramble of things I am thankful for

How to survive a funeral

If you look, see a
box. Cry
for the melting snow.
For the flowers,
miscarriages of colour
returned to the earth like bulbs.

Bethan Ford-Williams

I am grateful for poetry, and the ability to write it, and the fact that I spent three years around people who were excellent at it and who loved it as much as I did and in some cases more. I am grateful for spending three years writing and reading and knowing that doing that was okay, maybe a bit self-indulgent at times (maybe a lot of the time) but that it was something worth doing.

I am thankful for the opportunities that those three years afforded me, and that I took a chance, when I was seventeen, and looked into university without ever really intending to go.

mum and dad

I feel so grateful to have the parents that I do, who are unfailingly supportive (even if my Dad tells me I drive incorrectly). I am thankful that they are the incredibly weird people they are because otherwise I would not be the incredibly weird person I am. (And that would be a shame for everyone involved.)

Even when they have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, or doing, or think I am being dramatic (I probably am), they support me, share in my laughter and laugh at me when the situation calls for it.

Selfies with the parentsI do not thank my parents enough for the relationship we have; the way we have never really had a fight; the way they take selfies with me even though it’s often ridiculous and very much in public; the way they let me dig at them for saying words that aren’t actually real words.

The cinema trips and drives with Dad, the shopping days and lazing around on the sofa with mum (and the dog). I am so lucky to have my parents, and I don’t tell them enough or talk about my feelings to them very often but I like to think I show them.

I am thankful for sunsets and clouds and stars and the sea. I am thankful for tiny, fluffy animals and animated gifs. I am thankful for chocolate (so thankful for chocolate). I am thankful for cobbled streets and houses with beams, but I am also thankful for towering buildings with walls made out of nothing but windows.

I am thankful for books and vanilla chai tea. I am thankful for friends and movies and ice cream.

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I am thankful for my best friend, who I wax lyrically about on a semi-regular basis, I am thankful that I have someone in my life who understands me as she does and who lets me sit in the corner, doing my own thing and is content just to be in the same room. I am thankful that she walked up to me as I was stood on the steps of our college. I am thankful she didn’t run away when I continued the conversation I was having with myself in my head, with her out loud without providing any semblance of context. I am glad she just rolled with it.

cropped-10507917_1435117733443713_1681269517_n.jpg

“My sister is gonna make a mint, everyone can see her potential is f***ing phenomenal.”

Overheard from
the garden in 2011

I am thankful for my brother. He is one of the most irritating human beings on Earth but he is also my brother. I am grateful for the nice things he says about me when he thinks I can’t hear him and that he likes to throw wrapping paper at my head at Christmas, so much so that it is now tradition. And I am also grateful for hilariously out of tune sing-a-longs. I am grateful that I have a brother.

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I am thankful for grandparents. Grandparents are precious, and if you have any still with you, pick up the phone and give them a call or go round and give them a hug. I am so lucky to have had my grandparents right up until my twenties, and I am so lucky to have had not two but three sets of them! (Long story short: we adopted some close family friends who lived in the house at the bottom of our garden, and they, too, adopted us.) I am lucky enough to still have my Nanna (on my mum’s side) and my adoptive grandad still with me. I am thankful for their existence, and their stories, and the stories I can take forward and tell my one-day children and grandchildren.

I am thankful for stories, and photography. I am thankful for mist and hills and beaches. I am thankful for the way that light shines through leaves. I am thankful for those of you still reading this ramble.

he and i

I am thankful for my other half, at whose desk I am sitting while finishing this post. I am thankful for his patience when I am stressed and his support when I am feeling needy. I am thankful for his willingness to stay in with me on a Saturday while we look after my Nanna and watch nothing but old musicals and every single Lassie film that exists.

I am grateful that he took the time to respond to my message on okcupid, and that we found a time to meet and both dived in head first. I am slightly jealous of how smitten my dog is with him (it’s not fair) and how my laptop seems to really want to please him and only turns on when he is around (it’s really not fair). I am thankful for taking chances.

I am thankful that we share so many obsessions and yet still find things to each have of our own. I feel grateful that he has an incredibly lovely family, and that my own family accept and approve of him whole-heartedly. I am thankful for the sheer amount of ridiculous selfies he has let me force him into.

I am grateful that I have my own little corner of the internet to write my thoughts and review my books and fill with whatever floats my considerably eclectic dinghy. I am thankful for the people who read it. What are you thankful for?

Pondering in an Empty Office

Hello The Internet. How are you? I disappeared again. Sorry about that. I should rename this website, call it something like The Official Apologies of Elou Carroll RE: Her Absence from Blogging. But I won’t.

Really though, I meant to do some blogging last week but I was so thrilled to have time off work to do absolutely nothing that I did just that. Absolutely nothing. Aside from my draw-everyday-of-2016 project which is still going strong, though I may not have mentioned it here before now.

It was refreshing, doing nothing. My absence from my blog has most notably been caused by late nights at work, which are self-inflicted but necessary. It is from one of those late nights that I am making my return. I’m about to leave, really I am, but once I get home I will not be using a computer. There is my dilemma. There it has been for the last month or two. So tonight, as I am here and as I am done for the night, I decided to write a little post before I leave. It is one of the better impulsive things I have done while alone in the office after staying late most evenings (the most impulsive yet: cutting my hair – not the most traditional use of the office bathroom but it felt necessary).

Actually, ignore those brackets. I am going to talk about that bit. Non-bracketed. I cut my hair at half past seven one evening, in the ground floor bathroom of my office. I’ve cut my hair before, the act of cutting it is not that unusual, but my choice of make-shift salon was quite unexpected.

Picture this: March 23rd, the Wednesday before the Easter bank holiday, an Elou, alone in an office with a desk stacked high with books and papers (my desk is potentially the most cluttered of the whole company, I’m a creative, what can I say?). The constant thrum of electricity which is almost inaudible when the whole company is around but emerges from its hiding spots in the evening when everyone leaves, an InDesign document which refuses to cooperate and a small mound of print orders which need doing and typesetting which needs sending out before the aforementioned Elou leaves the office the next day, not to return for just over a week. The InDesign document has a life of its own and doesn’t want to be fixed. In its own mind it’s not broken in the first place (and it’s not, not really, it’s just acting a little strange but at half seven in the evening, a little strange often translates as broken). Biblio (“a fully integrated best of breed publishing system accessible online from any PC and Mac connected to the Internet”) is eking out print order PDFs as slowly as it possibly can, while time seems to have sped up to at least double its normal pace. The afore-aforementioned Elou notices the straggly ends of her hair, which has not been cut since … June? She needs to fix something, nothing appears to be going right and she needs to. To grasp a teeny, tiny pixel of control. So she does.

She sees the scissors on her desk, not quite sharp enough for what she needs to do but she knows there are hair cutting scissors at home to tidy everything up, and she hops, skips and jumps into the bathroom (no, really).

Cutting off four inches of her hair is liberating. It’s messy but she can fix that later. It feels a little bit like freedom. And suddenly, the other things don’t seem too much like problems anymore, nothing that can’t be dealt with the next day (which were dealt with the next day).

Writing about myself in the third person is also quite liberating. I realise now, when I’ve had a week and a bit to sit and think about it, that this might have been a little bout of madness. But sometimes madness is necessary. Sometimes, all you need is to chop off four inches of hair and the world will look a little better.

hair

Taken from Snapchat, to Instagram, with silly selfie expressions which I am not even a little bit ashamed of. My hair was long before. So, so long.

(And so will your hair, so much so that your boss will mention it the next day, to be met with a colleague asking-but-not-really-asking-because-they-already-know-the-answer Where did you get it done, Emma? and your shifty response of here, and when asked to elaborate right here, in the bathroom. A pause, which is met with awkward shifting on your part, but is finished with amusement from your boss who has just about gotten used to the odd things that happen around you on a near-daily basis after working with you for two and a half years. Phew.)

 

Pondering on trains #2

Today, by the time I get home (including tube journeys and train delays due to electrical failures which meant at least one carriage of an overcrowded train was plummeted into complete darkness and subsequently led to us being stuck behind a slow train) I will have spent fifteen minutes in a car, twenty seven minutes walking, forty-six minutes on a bus and a whopping four hours and eight minutes on trains, with eight hours at work sandwiched in between. I will have spent £10 more than usual to get an open return which lets me get on a train at the time I would normally be waking up and I will definitely not understand why I was required to spend that extra £10 to get on a train at ten past six on a Monday morning. Nothing particularly special happens on trains at ten past six on a Monday morning, there is no magical on-board vanilla chai tea service or super comfy seats, nor are there warmer carriages or super speedy travel times, nor a small jaunt into Narnia. In fact, I am pretty sure it is a much more enjoyable experience catching a train at any time other than ten past six on a Monday morning.

That said, for most of that train journey I had ‘assumed the position’ (an act I save for the most dire of sleep-needing circumstances – normally in winter when I have had a bout of sleeplessness – which involves a lot of slouching, and as much snoozing as is possible on a bumpy train ride, all in the safety of the abnormally and wonderfully large fluffy hood on my coat) so it is possible I could have missed whatever magical happening I was paying £10 extra for. Either way, I am not sure that extra £10 is worth it.

(As I type, on my way home at around 6PM, a man with a beer has opened the train toilet door on an unsuspecting business man who clearly wasn’t aware of the lock button, though, now said beer-holding man has entered the aforementioned train toilet upon the business man’s exit and the lock symbol has not lit up so perhaps it’s just not working – regardless, that was not what I wanted to see on a sleep-deprived Monday evening and further firms the fact that train fare is bafflingly high considering the never-improving state of the service. We have already touched on how much I despise train toilets, be that in a very small way, combine that with drunk people and it is very much not a good time.)

I get incredibly stressed before I travel, to the point that my incredibly patient other half has to answer the same few questions about a million times, the answers to which do nothing to ease the stress but I still need to know the answers every time I ask for them (“when do we need to get up?”, “when do we need to leave?”, “how long will it take?”, “will I definitely get there on time?”, “will it definitely turn up?”, repeat ad infinitum), as well as dealing with irritability and the potential for less-than-a-minute bursts of uncalled for stress crying, the latter, thankfully, not happening very often. (You know he’s a keeper when he not only gets up with you at 4AM when he doesn’t really have to but also offers to make you pancakes before you leave, walks you down to your bus stop and deals with all of your pointless questions, stress and grumpiness when he should still be sleeping – thank you, you are super human.)

If I am travelling just after I have to get up, I will inevitably not be able to sleep; so determined will my body be to not miss my train/bus/taxi (delete as applicable) that I will be completely awake for most of the night with fleeting pink elephant dreams in between (today’s being a result of the back-to-back Attack on Titan watching I partook in on Saturday, and, naturally, not at all relaxing – it’s good, you should watch it). Naturally, my decision to travel a greater distance this morning in the same amount of time it would have taken to catch the various rail replacements home yesterday made me question my life choices, as well as whether today was, indeed, the same Monday I thought it was, but it also made me feel oddly triumphant.

But that was not the point of this pondering. I’m not entirely sure what the point was but it has led me to question why they’re spending so much time on a snazzy new line when that snazzy new line is leading to over-crowding on the pre-existing line and traffic problems in my home town. Sigh. That is, potentially, a rant for another entry.

What you Lose when you Steal from Smaller Artists

Pluviophile

Definition 02: Pluviophile by Elou Carroll

Yesterday, I discovered that one of my images had gone viral (semi-viral? However viral over 200,000 shares is, anyway). Great, right? I can’t really think of any artist who wouldn’t adore that much exposure. Except that it’s not exposure when your project stamp is cropped out and there is no mention of you anywhere. This sort of thing happens all the time, all you have to do is search ‘art theft’ on tumblr and there are countless cases. When you upload your content to the internet, it’s bound to happen to you at least once; people see an image on Google and assume they can use it for whatever. It’s a fact of life in this new age where anything that wants to be anything is shared digitally. I’ve had my images pop up on little Russian websites, which Google translate can’t make any sense of, but this is the first time that an image has exploded.

Lo and behold, one of my tumblr blogs and my website.

Lo and behold, one of my tumblr blogs and my website.

The admin of the page in question were adamant that they didn’t crop or edit the image in any way and posted it as they found it because they liked it (their catalogue of badly cropped, low quality images suggests otherwise). They work with hundreds of artists and care deeply about treating them fairly, and wouldn’t do anything to harm an artist’s reputation. Even if this were true, a reverse image search using the version they uploaded yields my original uploads as the first results (thanks, Google!).

It’s not hard to trace an image source. Their lack of research shows a gross lack of respect, and you see it everywhere. Art is not treated as something with value but it should be.

After I turned into a giant green rage monster, they eventually agreed to put a credit in the caption (though, I had to jump through hoops to prove it was mine), getting them to include a URL was incredibly difficult and they’re still using my real name, rather than the name I use for my artistic endeavours: Elou.

Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased that so many people enjoy the image but so much is lost when an image is stolen and edited. It damages artists when large pages, with giant like counts, take images and don’t give due credit. My 1,400~ likes is nothing compared to their 600,000+. But big pages don’t care about little ones.

Always wake a sleeping photographer

Always wake a sleeping photographer

Big pages don’t care that this image was taken almost exactly a year ago, at around 7:30 in the morning, in the Dartmoor countryside. They don’t care that my model and partner in crime had a dilemma on her hands when she noticed how perfect the weather was that morning. Nor that the skirt she was wearing once belonged to her mother (I think), and that the wellington boots still belong to her Oma (who has incredible taste in brightly coloured shoes). They don’t care that beneath that outfit was another outfit, to make it easy for us to shoot an entirely different set of images afterwards. Or that we spent at least an hour in the mist and the rain, trying to get the perfect images, even though we weren’t entirely sure what we were after. Or that it is incredibly hard to shoot in the mist and the rain, through a viewfinder, when your breath is steaming up your glasses every other moment. They don’t care that my model, who is one of my favourite people in the universe, took this opportunity to walk around barefoot in the rain for a while because she loves the way it feels; and that we were on holiday, and decided to fill that holiday with creativity.

The second look, more images will appear in a blog entry soon - I hope!

The second look, more images will appear in a blog entry soon – I hope!

They don’t care about the hours of shooting, choosing and editing time; the styling time; the time it took to craft the original blog post and distribute the image via several kinds of social media. They don’t care about the photos which followed, or the photos I have yet to edit. They don’t care that people might want to see more, they don’t care that people might not realise there are more. Why would they? They have their booming stats.

I’m not the first person this has happened to, and I won’t be the last. I had it easy, as far as I’m aware no money was made off my image. The version they posted was not of a high enough quality for them to really do anything with it, I’ve seen countless cases of art being printed onto t-shirts and bags without the artists say so.

The moral of the story is: check your sources. If you run a high profile page, posting random images from the internet damages art. Art and artists deserve more respect than that.

Pondering on trains

I am currently (at the time of writing, though, probably not at the time of posting) on a train, and, as is customary with my train journeys, I am using this time to Think-About-Things. Nothing too drastic or life altering, just little things like ‘I haven’t written properly in rather a long time, I should fix that,’ and the impossibility of phone cameras catching the incredible beauty of a fleeting sunset between two train seats, so fleeting that it only lasted all of about two minutes. I saw the glow on the wall (do trains have walls?), spun round to try to photograph it but all my camera picked up was a yellow mass, and the train jostled about so much that it would never have focused anyway.

Other thoughts include: ‘I really am uncomfortable in this outfit, I wish I had found that t-shirt,’ ‘I need to lose twenty-eight pounds, at least,’ ‘I am hungry,’ and those are then swallowed up by improbable ones about futuristic trains which don’t wobble, and contain toilets (I am sat opposite a train toilet) that don’t have that awful train toilet smell. Trains where Quiet Zones have some kind of force field in their doors which automatically mutes any electronic devices and tells your brain to use your inside voice, your quietest there-is-a-baby-asleep-in-the-next-room-and-if-it-wakes-up-its-parents-might-actually-eat-me voice. Then it digests a bit and turns into a moral dilemma – is a super high tech train which is able to alter the volume of the voices of those inside it, utilising the brain of those people, ethical? Probably not.

On that note, my train is pulling into my station (or was, at 6:30pm, when this was being written) – time to go.

On Disappearing from the Internet

Um. Hello. So, the title of this blog is a little misleading; I didn’t disappear from the entire internet, I’ve been incredibly active on Instagram, my random junk Tumblr, my inspiration Tumblr and my personal Facebook page. What the title of this blog should say is ‘On Disappearing from my Blog, Twitter, Flickr and other such Public Places, and the Pausing of the Definition Project’ but that is clunky and sounds too much like a chapter title from some kind of cyber fantasy novel (probably not a very good one). I’ve been meaning to come back for a while and, upon seeing lovely posts from lovely people like MikeMel (welcome back to you too!) and Georgia, I have decided that now is the time.

Originally, I disappeared because I was ill, nothing too horrendous but enough to render me useless for about five weeks. I always meant to start again once I was better but, as it often goes, life happened. So here is a list, in no particular order, for anyone who is interested, of things that I have done and things that have happened since my last post. To find out about the Definition Project, skip to the bottom.

  • Saw Miss Saigon in the Westend
  • Gained wonderful new people
  • Lost less wonderful people
  • Turned twenty-four
  • Irritated the dog (in a very loving way)
  • Designed several books (expect a post about book covers shortly)
  • Visited Dudley Zoo and Castle

  • Discovered and cultivated an obsession with steamed dumplings
  • Consumed a lot of pancakes
  • Bought a car
  • Passed my theory test
  • Read several good books
  • Dyed my hair

  • Failed to re-dye it (it’s on the list)
  • Started collecting crescent moon chokers
  • Checked out a few of the owls in The Big Hoot
  • Got a new tattoo (post to come)
  • Felt super good about myself
  • Started using the word ‘super’ a lot
  • Added many books to my wish list
  • Lost my oomph
  • Tentatively started finding it again
  • Almost broke my laptop, but it’s hanging in there (darn Windows updates)
  • Created a wonderful spotify playlist
  • Needed more sleep
  • Travelled on many trains
  • Visited friends
  • Went to Lancaster for the first time
  • Had many terrible driving lessons, and a fair few good ones (more good than bad from now, we hope)
  • Resolved not to rush myself
  • Ran the work Instagram
  • Cooked a three course meal, without ruining it
  • Went to a vintage bazaar
  • Sent lots of emails

Alright, it doesn’t sound like much but I am ready to take a leap back into this blogging lark and will probably use this list to generate ideas. I will return to my design posts and my book posts but I won’t be as strict with myself. I will allow myself to post about what I like, be that incredibly nerdy tattoos or my inability to stick to schedules. Who knows.

The Definition Project

The beady-eyed among you have probably noticed that my weekly project is not so much weekly anymore. Originally, as above, I paused due to illness. Having done that, I realised I wanted that project to be as good as it possibly can be and I don’t think that is possible when trying to create something new each week with limited locations and resources.

The last image I posted is one of the best images I have ever created, I think, and I want all of the images to be of that standard or better (if I can!) so I am waiting until I have access to more locations (and the ability to drive so that I can get there), more money to put into it, more oomph and a computer that can handle working on such large files. Currently, I can only do simple edits, rather than the composites I am more fond of, my laptop is steadily dying. Once it is replaced, I will be creating magic once more. Watch this space. Big things are to come.

Things I have learnt: from becoming a Design and Production Assistant

This is the first post in a series of ‘Things I have learnt’ – I have no idea where this series will go but this is the first post and therefore it is worth celebrating – cue Kool & the Gang.

It’s my workiversary! For the last year (wow, that went by quickly!), I have been working at Jessica Kingsley Publishers (and Singing Dragon) as a Design and Production Assistant. This is my first real job and my first official, really real paid job in publishing, and since I have now been there long enough to have had a little publishing baby (that didn’t sound quite as weird in my head), I feel I am ‘qualified’ to tell you things I have learnt from the experience so far.

1. Paper is possibly one of the best things ever invented

I realise how incredibly nerdy this is. But I stand by my guns. While I was doing my Masters, I may have casually scoffed at all of the lectures on paper, not because I didn’t find them interesting (I did!) but because to me paper was just that: paper.

In March, I was able to visit a printing press with my manager for a day’s workshop on paper and printing and ink and the effect light has on said ink – this, I think, was where it started. Even though I have been using (and unintentionally collecting) stationary for years, and reading books for the entirety of the remembered part of my life, I’d never really thought about the paper. Sure, I’d notice if something was thicker or felt different but that’s as far as it went.

While at the printers, we were shown various different samples and asked to guess what they were and what they might be used for. I got a few but mostly failed horrifically. After the subsequent tour of the press, and the return to work, I started to pay a lot more attention. (As well as bugging my co-workers with a lot of possibly stupid questions, sorry guys!)

I got a box of paaaaper

I got a box of paaaaper

Fast forward to now: I have been asked to gather paper samples from all of our printers and it’s stupidly exciting. I received my first sample pack a few weeks ago. There was squealing. Before now, I didn’t know how many possibilities there were, how many different looks and feels you could get, how what a book was printed on could drastically change the way people react to it. It feels powerful. Paper feels powerful.

2. There is a certain sense of pride in wandering around a book shop and knowing what the books you are looking at are made of

I am pretty sure I drive my friends mad when we visit book shops together. Or elicit the ‘nod and smile, nod and smile’ response. Where I used to just pick up a book because it looked pretty or interesting, read the blurb, put it back (or hold on to it because I really had to buy it and it was necessary to my continued existence), I now pick up books which look like they have been produced in an interesting way (or have hand-drawn waves on the cover but that is an entirely different blog entry) and react accordingly.

I pore over the paper, look on the copyright page at the type face if it’s listed (and try to guess what it is if it’s not), work out which finish is on the cover and which fun things have been done to it to make it look more pleasing (my current obsession is uncoated covers with foil details, yummy!), and then, naturally, shove the book in the face of whoever I’m with and tell them all about it, adamant that they should be just as excited as I am. (My best friend tends to pat me on the head, smile and move on to the next interesting book she finds – unless the one I’m shoving at her looks really interesting or has a super matt cover.)

Book shop experiences, for me, are so much better now. I connect with the books in a more material way and I think that is amazing.

3. Nothing is better than seeing a book you have designed in print

This point does not require much commentary – I remember how I felt when my first bit of typesetting arrived in the office, my first cover. Heck, every cover and every bit of typesetting. The reason I wanted to work in Design and/or Production in the first place was so that I could truly be involved in how a book was made. I’d thought about Editorial, or Marketing, but nothing quite appealed as much as being able to work on the book as a physical thing. (By this, I mean creating the physical thing.)

4. Production is the best department

I am horrendously biased. I should say that right now. Absurdly biased. However, there are several reasons that Production is the best and a few of these are as follows:

  1. As I said above, you get to work on the book as an actual, physical thing.
  2. Presents! We get sent things from our printers every so often (the most recent was a box of post it note books, I was perhaps a little too happy about it).
  3. Adobe CC. Beautiful.
  4. Occasionally getting to work on things outside of Production – we have been known to work on things for marketing, I have been known to work on videos. I have no idea if other departments get to do this but we do, so it’s a valid reason.
  5. Gloriously nerdy ‘field trips’.

5. You probably won’t get mentioned in the book

BUT, if you designed the cover, your name will probably be on the back. Woohoo!

I didn’t sign up for the publishing life with the want or expectation that I would be thanked in the books I work on – I get paid to do what I love, it’s awesome. But if your dream is to have your name printed on the acknowledgements page of a book, the designing side of Production is probably not for you.


So, there you have it. Five things I’ve learnt in my first year as a Design and Production Assistant. All images are from my Instagram.

A Month, an apology, and perhaps an explanation

That is how long it’s been since I have updated this blog. I had a round up planned for the new year, a selection of interesting things I found (mostly via YA Highway) and read throughout the year, a selection of important things that happened in 2012 in the publishing industry, a selection of books which I thought were brilliant. But it’s been a month. And that hasn’t happened.

January was supposed to be a time of productivity, work, finding placements. (The latter I have at least attempted to no reply… so far.) January is not going as planned.

I have to apologise for the lack of updates and for this entry as well, and for the sparse entries that will follow. I didn’t want to make this blog too personal, only including the important things like Graduation (and the pretty cupcakes that occurred around that time because everyone needs cupcakes sometimes), so I will keep this short: on December 29th, 2012, I lost someone  and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel. I don’t know how long it will take, it’s always different, but I do know that I will try to update this more often with interesting bookish things. I just need to get back into the swing of things again.

I can be good at this blogging thing. I really can. Sometimes.