This week we got to know the maker of one of our favorite books – Deb Pang Davis, creator/designer of Dirty Pictures. Deb gives us some background on the who, what, and why of making her book – a must read for all bookmakers and pdxcross fans.
Why do you do what you do and where do you find inspiration?
My background is in publishing as a designer/art director for magazines such as National Geographic Traveler, Virtuoso Life and several newspapers, so publication design is in my blood.
I particularly love and thrive on the collaborative aspects of design. I fell in love with publication design because of being able to work with a myriad of elements — copy, photos, color, illustrations, typography, graphics — and that means meeting and working with a wide swath of other creatives. Editorial environments are highly stressful and the people make it tolerable and incredibly fun.
Inspiration is all around us — old, new, small, big — and I try to slow down the ramped up pace of work and life to notice the world around me. It can be how people dress; the colors of the natural world; a delightfully arranged plate of food; the rows of books on shelves; the opening sequence of an HBO series… you name it.
The web also makes nearly everything from other parts of the world more accessible. That’s magic.
What was your favorite book as a child?
One book that stands out in my mind is Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton. I grew up near Rochester, New York with “Lake Effect Snow.” As a young girl, I could relate to Katy and always rejoiced in her ability to plow through a challenge and in the end save the day.
How did you get involved in pdxcross?
The men and women of pdxcross are my friends; good friends. Our most common passion is storytelling and photography. Between each of us we have a sweet history working with each other in various cubicle cultures so the opportunity to group together and make magic happen with photography was desired and inevitable. It is a gift to have such talented friends and be able to produce something we can each be proud of. And, being able to give something special back to the community makes the experience all the more satisfying.
(PDXCROSS = Photographers: Rob Finch, Torsten Kjellstrand, Tim Labarge, Jamie Francis, Pam Royal, Mike Davis and writer: Heidi Swift)
As a designer, I love working with photography because of its immediate impact and also because of its subtleties. Often it feels like making or playing music over a series of pages. I suppose it is also a lot like filmmaking; taking viewers on a journey with information and through emotion.
What was your favorite part about making a Blurb book?
The editing, design and production of Dirty Pictures was completed in 7 days. Our picture editor, Mike Davis (also one of the photographers of PDXCROSS) did an incredible job of taking 50,000 images and editing them down to just 160.
There is no way we would have been able to accomplish that through traditional means without also spending a fortune in upfront costs.
Other than the built-in marketing tools and the flexibility of being able to design with Indesign rather than BookSmart, my favorite part was seeing the excitement on the faces of PDXCROSS as well as their audience. It is always incredibly satisfying to see first-hand how people connect with a product, in this case Dirty Pictures.
If you could bestow one bookmaking tip on the world, what would it be?
Before you design any book, take the time to fully understand the content. Read it; observe it; listen to it; feel it, especially if there are a lot of moving pieces.
That comprehension is part of nailing down the goal or focus of the book. Design is not just about making a product look good, it is also about being a solid editor. By fully grasping the content and nailing down a book’s focus, design decisions will be much easier.