Production Tips Dished for Designers at AAN West

Making up the smallest contingent of attendees at the AAN West 2005 conference were the visual artists — photo editors, art directors and graphic designers — representing alt-weeklies in California, Idaho, Colorado and Utah.

Boise Weekly Editor Bingo Barnes kick-started the weekend’s design programming by gathering the group for an icebreaking round robin of tips on how to achieve what participants dubbed “work flow.” Topics of interest included incentive programs, ad tracking, technological and personal protocol, networking, deadlines, Quark versus In-Design and the crucial dialogue between advertisers, ad reps, editors and designers.

Barnes observed that differences in geography, ideology and skill had little effect on the overall utility and applicability of the seminar. “It’s always interesting that no matter what a person’s level of expertise — just starting out as a designer or a 20-year industry veteran — everyone has a tip or a trick about making things easier,” said Barnes.

Having earned his way through the ranks as an illustrator, photographer, writer and creative director for a variety of magazines and newspapers, Barnes has examined design issues from just about every angle and encouraged his peers to keep the energy and tolerance flowing.

“We all do things differently, so it’s all about adapting. Hearing other perspectives gives you a reference point for change, evidence that can help you implement new ideas into an old system. Before you know it, you have a paradigm shift,” Barnes said.

The conference’s first day also included a seminar conducted by attorney Thomas R. Burke that covered the legalese of using copyrighted or downloaded images and the impacts of artistic manipulation.

Saturday’s activities were rolled into a two-part seminar by DIGIVersity.TV’s Russell Viers — a “buffet of production tips, tricks and treats,” with the future of fonts and type for dessert.

“It was a fantastic presentation. Russell was very lively and entertaining — and everything he said, the audience related to it 100 percent,” said Judith Alderman, a designer for Palo Alto Weekly. “When you get to a design conference like this, you realize that we all have shared issues, shared agonies — even though the process may be unique from paper to paper. We also have the same excitement, and seeing what everyone else is doing is inspiring.”

Mindi Casillas, who works with Alderman, added that despite the many similarities in alternative print media sources, AAN West demonstrated a collective spirit of openness. “This is the antithesis of competition,” she said. “It’s very sharing.”

Erin Ryan is the calendar editor and a staff writer at Boise Weekly.