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A designer client connection.

To keep in touch with clients and potential clients, Lighthouse Media, Inc. (408/727-8500), an advertising and design firm in Santa Clara, Calif., issues a quarterly two-color, eight-page magapaper: Flashlight. The highly designed pages are poster-like in their visual impact, and each of them contains items of general interest to people in the communication business. Whatever sell that's here is mercifully soft and subtle.

The cover for the first four issues has remained the same, with a line-conversion photo of a lighthouse played at a dramatic angle, but each cover comes in a different color combination, and, of course, the table of contents ("What's Inside") changes each time. Issues are numbered (shown here is the cover for issue four), but, to give the issues longer life, dates do not appear.

In addition to the feature articles, four regular columns appear in each issue: one on ecological awareness in the work place (the publication uses recycled paper, of course), one on work done for clients, one on industry terminology, and one on software and hardware used in design and advertising.

The staff uses Freehand, PhotoShop, and QuarkXPress to put the publication together. Among typefaces are Goudy (body copy), Univers (captions), Oblong, Mekanik, Glypha, and Bodoni. Anything to bring variety to the pages.

Pages two and three of the first issue (shown) introduce the new publication and carry one of the columns. That's Kathy Price, president and creative director, holding up an initial letter on page two.

The "Nerd Alert" column with its "It Can Happen to You!" subhead nestled between the two words covers the PageMaker-QuarkXPress debate. "Each program has its strengths," the article says. But the people at Lighthouse Media "have defected to XPress.

"The consensus in the desktop publishing industry is that PageMaker is an excellent jack-of-all-trades program - especially for beginning and intermediate users - while XPress is the choice for high-end professional-level publishing," the column concludes. But of course these programs periodically upgrade themselves, and what additional jobs they can do must constantly be considered as each new version is issued.

Flashlight stands as a good example of what desktop publishing can accomplish. A "Nerd Alert" column in issue three notes that, yes, desktop publishing has a lot of advantages over traditional production, but lower cost is not one of them. And "the new technology has simply replaced one set of problems with another."

The big expense to clients continues to be design talent. "Remember that a design is only as good as the designer, not the tool. Just as a $100 pen doesn't make someone a better writer, a $10,000 computer system won't allow a mediocre designer to suddenly produce great work."

Roy Paul Nelson, professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, is the author of a number of books on design, art, media and writing, including "Publication Design" (Wm. C. Brown Publishers, Dubuque, Iowa).
COPYRIGHT 1995 International Association of Business Communicators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Look of the Book
Author:Nelson, Roy Paul
Publication:Communication World
Article Type:Column
Date:Jan 1, 1995
Previous Article:Internal communication: a model for the future.
Next Article:Beware the hand-to-chin cliche.

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