Friday, 5 February 2010

I did it myself!

Following on from Branding Your Arts Business we continue to explore the world of marketing and branding your business with a book review. And the book is.....
D.I.Y. Design It Yourself.

Described as a manual for anyone wanting to design their own branding and publicity materials,
Design It Yourself covers a wide range of different visual media and packaging ideas. The book is a collaborative project by post graduate students from the Maryland Institute College of Fine Arts and edited by graphic designer and author Ellen Lupton. This is a soft back book bursting with graphic design ideas from Books to Zines, Blogs to Websites and everything else in between.
Who is this book for? This book is aimed at anyone who is not a graphics or design graduate but has basic idea of design and layout. Primarily, it is a book about IDEAS and is written in a style that makes the reader think "yeah - I can do that".
What about the content? The first three chapters: Why D.I.Y? D.I.Y Theory and Basic Design are a Must-Read as they delve into the Why Who and How of design - why we need design to get our "message" out, who we are targetting with our message and how we are going to create a strategy to get that message to those people. The subsequent chapters are alphabetical from Blogs through to Zines. Design It Yourself covers media design and old fashioned illustration with great promotional ideas such as making books, printing on textiles, designing logos and my favourite, making and decorating envelopes.
The layout of the book is clean and clear (which you would expect from a book created by design students) with great images and photographs. It is not a book to copy designs from - you can buy books and CDs for this from
Dover Bookshop - but a book about cultivating your own design ideas and creating your own branding and marketing campaign.
So, is this a great book? Not exactly. Some of the chapters are too basic - these are the ones about on-line tools such as blogging, web design and, most disappointingly, Presentations. The ideas and advice were fairly sketchy and, if you are a total novice, you would be better advised just to follow the templates direct from the blog site or use a website package such as
Websites for Artists. Plus the examples of websites, blogs and presentations weren't particularly inspiring. However, the chapters on Press Kits, Postcards, Logos and Books had plenty of information and great ideas to start the reader thinking about how they can stamp their own design style onto these promotional tools.
Oh, and check out the chapter on Brands. Mike Weikert takes the reader through the processes of branding and brand identity, using his company,
Small Roar, as the example. A whole book of different companies talking about branding and marketing of their products would make a great read.
Am I glad I bought it? Yes, as a book on design and style it sits alongside The Laura Ashley Book of Home Decorating and my Habitat catalogues from the seventies and eighties, although Design It Yourself is not a design classic (and didn't set out to be one). This book was first published in 2006 and, with all books covering technology and design, will date fairly quickly. Design is about selling a life style and addressing how people aspire to live and current design trends lean more toward the hand made and vintage rather than slick design and CAD.
Jo Whitehead

The opinions and views in this book review are solely that of the author and not the general opinion of Artists in Business. Neither the author or AIB has received any payment or sponsorship in exchange for the review nor has the content of this review been influencedby any third party.

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