Looking to learn basic design principles
October 2, 2007 1:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some instruction on the basics of design and layout - and I found this workshop by the National Seminars Group, but am a little suspicious (I didn't even like the layout of the course brochure).

Can anyone comment on this course, or suggest alternatives? Based upon a recommendation in another thread, I've already ordered the Non-Designer's Design Book. Suggestions for how to pick up design principles in general and In-Design skills in particular are equally welcome.
posted by greggish to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I am in a different field than you, but I would advise against taking the class you listed. In my experience taking a writing workshop with National Seminars Group, it was nothing more than a two-day ploy to sell their books and materials.

The lady teaching the class started mentioning a few of her "favorite books" an awful lot, and next thing I knew, there was a table set up at the back of the room so we could buy the books ourselves. How convenient! I felt like it was mostly useless filler for the purpose of selling books.

I know it doesn't answer your question with regard to design principles... but maybe it will help you decide where NOT to go.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 1:10 PM on October 2, 2007

Design principles
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 1:18 PM on October 2, 2007

where are you located?
In Seattle I would recommend the School of Visual Concepts

Otherwise, take a look at your local community college's class listings.
posted by allthingsfixable at 1:20 PM on October 2, 2007

I'm looking for some instruction on the basics of design and layout

It might help if you explain why you needed the instruction, such as for work or business or you have an idea. Doing so would help people give you more pointed answers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:38 PM on October 2, 2007

I think that "design" brochure speaks for itself! Run!

Along with what others suggest, I'd check out Before and After magazine. They do a nice job of explaining the design process in a simple step-by-step, hands on kind of way.
posted by slowfasthazel at 1:46 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: SVC is a great school with great instructors, and many of their courses are quite affordable.

Before & After is a good primer.

I think the best book - not a textbook or a technical manual, but a book you need should you really consider this a career or serious hobby - is Ellen Lupton's Thinking With Type, which is much more a general grid/design/page layout book than simply a survey of contemporary typography (which is it, as well, and very successfully).

I think it goes without saying that you need Bringhurst and the Thames & Hudson book, too, but I'll say it anyway.
posted by luriete at 2:31 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry not to clarify - I'm in the DC area, and I just need some buffing up on my newsletter and tabloid chops. Thanks for the answers so far.
posted by greggish at 2:53 PM on October 2, 2007

Envisioning Information might be helpful
posted by magullo at 3:15 PM on October 2, 2007

and I just need some buffing up on my newsletter and tabloid chops

Find a good template online and don't worry about the principles.

If you want to learn why they work, print them out, tape it too your wall and stand across the room. Observe the proportions of space for articles. The more to the less to the whole.

Works for junk mail too. Put all your junk mail in a pile, quickly run through them, keeping the stuff that catches your eye. Everything that didn't catch your eye, throw away. Take the eye catching mailers and tape them to your wall. Draw conclusions on why they worked.

There might be a scientific reason for why somethings are 'too big' or 'too small', but after all these years 'just feels right' is my usual answer.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:02 PM on October 2, 2007

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