Posted tagged ‘time management’

A Sampling of Type for the Ottawa Press Gang

August 17, 2012

From the poster sized type sampler printed earlier in the year.

I’m my own worst enemy. I have ages to work on the most recent Ottawa Press Gang project. In this, participating members of the Gang supply a comprehensive sampling of types from their cabinets. My original goal was to do have the work done on this sampler form the foundation of a stand-alone type specimen of all the types in the studio – a kind of record before I send some of the display types off to other homes. But time has had its way, and now I have to rush, the deadline being one week hence.

I love these Press Gang projects; they keep the lead flowing. But I don’t like rushing to a deadline, even though I am utterly hard-wired that way. Having run through all of the 35 trays of type in my possession, and having set in some manner or another the type therein, I know my OPG contribution will be a bit compromised.

I had done the poster-sized sampler last year and learned a few lessons about setting up type specimens, and a few incongruities in the composition of several of my trays of type. Somewhere I described the trays of type that I have acquired from other sources as “quixotic” and I have no intent of changing the description. Having delved more or less exhaustively into all the cabinets, I have found some very intriguing variations on the lay of the California case.

Page layout for my Ottawa Press Gang (OPG) contribution.

Lord Tennyson, the shop foreman, is not pleased with my work. Or my working when he wants his dinner.

For this new project, even after planning the layout, I realized that some of the larger faces (e.g. 60 pt Cloister Black) would have trouble fitting into the prescribed format: 4.25″ wide x 11″ tall, or an 8.5×11 sheet folder lengthwise. So when I say this is a sampler, I really mean a sample – several samples do not include the complete font. Many of the smaller faces will be presented in their full glory, but constraint was necessary. Even thus restrained, my dummy rang in at 16 pages.

Garamond, set and ready to print.

In ideal circumstances, with oodles of time, I’d like to do a specimen with a little more scope. A consistent order. Careful selection of characters, with all of them represented. Spread out, give the layout room to breath, upper case, lower case, figures and small caps on their own lines, and the caps letterspaced. Perhaps opposite, in lieu of illustrations, designs created with the appropriate type. Get some colour into the mix. Well, food for thought, and probably a project down the road. Another thing I like about OPG projects is that they stand as a kind of think-piece or dry run for more ambitious future projects.

(Almost) everything I’ve got.

This week, I’ve been churning through spacing material, leading and quads, filling up half a dozen galley trays with 60+ uppercase and lowercase type. And not done yet: title page, two pages using the type in a design, and a colophon (and my weekend is toast!). I own adequate spacing material for 10, 12, 14 and 24 pt, with barely enough to get by on in 18 pt. Sure enough, eight faces had to be set in that size, and the larger faces – 30, 36, 42, & 60 – require 18 pt spacers in combination with other sizes (e.g. 18 pt + 12 pt spacers works for 30 pt type etc.). And I burned through my supply of 20 pica leading – at least a couple hundred lines, then. I’ll have to cut some more.

Next week: morning, noon, and night on the press.


Another Old Year – Achievements

January 23, 2012

Well, it’s rolled around again, and again I’ll do my  brief summing up. Overall, I didn’t stroke much off the big list of major projects. Work and life got in the way. But as usual, when I add up what I did achieve, it surprises me. A lot of work on marketing this year, and my first exhibition of prints and books in a gallery setting!

Last time, I set the following goals:

  1. produce ten books in five years
    I’m not really on schedule for this, since the current book project, Tintern Abbey, was pushed into 2012 by a sudden and welcome flood of work in the studio.
  2. step up production value
    What I did produce this year certainly shows more confidence, in keeping with the “get serious!” theme of the next 5 year phase of the press.
  3. marketing: on-line presence, adverts, launches, more shows, book sellers
    Some of the ground work on planning and pushing the books paid off, with some books winding up in special collections. We hired a marketing consultant late last year, and I am determined to stop whining and learn to love social media.
  4. intensify illustration: my own, but working with other artists as well
    I’ve got some irons in the fire with work from other artists, and my own frontiers have opened up with my first efforts on wood engraving (see previous blogs).
  5. form working alliances with writers, illustrators, printers, bookbinders
    I approached a Queen’s University prof to write the intro for Tintern Abbey. He said yes, so that is about to be set in type possibly within days.
  6. further my studies in book design and typography.
    That is an on-going project indeed. I did spend some free time trolling through book spreads on line, making some observations but it’s hardly a concentrated study!

What I did do this year was a lot of little things done, including:

1) a new years card – I’m silly late this year, though!
2) Pondered reorganization, and made some minor progress
3) Tintern Abbey book got pushed, although my Wayzgoose anthology contribution made for an early study of the idea
4) Two rare commercial jobs, both invitations
5) Did the usual shows, organized one of them
6) Saw the work produced by Saint Lawrence College students from the printmaking course I taught the previous fall at their year end exhibition (That was a highlight!)
7) Collaborative calendar with the Ottawa Press Gang – (I’m April)
8) Wrote an article for Ornamentvm on the Canadian fine press scene
9) Took professional advise on marketing
10) Produced a broadside type sampler
11) Tried out wood engraving, although rightly that belongs to 2012
12) Spoke to the 2nd year architecture students at Carleton University about book arts
13) Had my first gallery show in Kingston at Studio22

Almost everything mentioned above is covered in some form or another in the previous couple dozen blog entries.


November 23, 2010

With Graven Images out, and possessing great expectations for the coming year, now just a few weeks away, Holly and I have been taking some time to review the way we live and spend out time. Over the past several months, in the face of rising costs and stagnant revenues, we instituted an austere budget, have held to it with, in my humble opinion, admirable rigor, and with a substantial net benefit to our bottom line. Like money, time is a commodity, and how we spend it or waste it can be budgeted with a good schedule. When work from our Big Client is thick in the studio, everything is very straightforward; otherwise, a daily regiment is a good idea.

Some may think it a tad strange: artists subjecting themselves to all this discipline. In fact, artists need it more than most workers, who have schedules and work hours thrust upon them in office, store or factory, for good or ill.

I began this year with a schedule very similar to this new one before me, and did not much hold to it. In a life full of false starts, I have learned not to let this discourage me. Try again.

I guess some schedules, like in academia, education, factories etc are fixed, while management or sales schedules must be flexible and contently reworked, even daily, as new challenges and upheavals of fortune present themselves for remedy. A working artist is both manager and labourer, so the schedule has to serve both realms. It must be rigid enough to provide structure, and flexible enough to bend without breaking.

My schedule begins at 6:30 in the morning and ends at 10:00 in the evening. Don’t think for a second that all the vast hours between are scheduled for work. Indeed, only 5 hours of the day are earmarked for artistic production, whatever that may entail. There are generous slots given over to meals: half hour for breakfast, an hour for lunch and 1.5 hours for dinner. My schedule is tailor-made and reflects my personal goals: printing, exercise, writing time, social media, marketing and promotion, blogging, reading and drawing.

So, it includes a half hour after breakfast for doing the dishes from the previous day, a half hour after lunch spent drawing, followed by another half hour spent “Filling the Well” — interpret that as you may: meditation, reading, a nap — whatever inspires. After the afternoon’s labour, yoga and light weight work on alternating days, and after dinner an hour’s walk, outside or on the treadmill. I prefer to exercise in the evening; unlike all these those hyper tuned athletes out there who bounce into work like balls of energy after their morning workouts, contrary as ever, I find it drains me of energy, and my workouts seem to be best a half hour or more after eating a decent meal, i.e. more than an energy bar. Evenings are for TV or reading, but always reading prior to bed.

As for the actual work, more creative endeavors take pride of place in the morning, while more commercial or production work is done in the afternoon. I think most working people can relate to this phenomenon.

Along with the schedule, I’m looking at my studio with a mind to reorganizing (no, I won’t be moving the press!). The furniture is staying where it is, but I may reorganize the way drawers and cupboards are used, and add some more storage in the studio, and purge stuff I haven’t touched for years. On the whole, the wee space I have works pretty well, but it could be better.

And why all of this discipline and rigor, when the very notion of an artist’s life is supposedly founded on artistic freedom (clearly an assumption created by someone who never worked as an artist). Part of being an artist is about control — of one’s self, of one’s work and of one’s environment. Over the years, I have found greater peace of mind creating inside some kind of framework; it almost seems to be an antidote to lethargy and depression, in my experience. It is manage with a notion of control, and getting important things done, even if they are not the “money” work. That work always takes priority, and will always get done, often at the expense of exercise and daily creative development. That’s life. But seeing all the other stuff there in black and white, saying “Here, between this time and this time, you sit down and write something, or draw something, or stretch seized-up hamstrings” gives it a little more clarity.

This morning I’ve already overrun my time semi-weekly blog time, so I’d better get into the studio and get to work.

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