Freelance Book Designer

{Graphic Design} Australian Style Manual

When I has a starving graphic design student I would hungrily devour any design-related book I could put my grubby hands on. My Austudy was spent on books about the history of typography, logo design, branding and packaging or anything deconstructionist – this was the late 90s after all – but there was one thing missing from this myriad of books: a comprehensive book on graphic design. Something that encompassed all the disciplines and principles we learnt about, one book I could carry with me instead of the five I would normally cram into my spiky rubber messenger bag (hello, 90s!) and lope off to class with.

As the art director for an educational publisher was privileged to have another perspective of the market and find there was still nothing holistic in the textbook world of this kind, nothing that really caught my eye that is. Nothing that spoke to me as an Australian designer or talks of the talent emerging from this region or of how Australian’s as a design audience respond to different ideas and trends that are presented to them.

So I decided to rectify that.

Two years ago I pitched my idea to the Vocational Education publisher and his publishing manager at McGraw-Hill, where I was working as art director. They were very interested but insisted I follow protocol and submit a formal proposal, with research to back up my claims of market need.

6 months later, after their own analysis was completed the book was signed! And everyone involved was very excited. I set to work building my team of super-duper design educator-authors and we started writing.

The result is a book we are all immensely proud of. In the process of writing and compiling this baby, I have been blown away by the generosity of the Australian and New Zealand design communities. Every designer I contacted happily contributed work and the general comment was ‘It’s about time a book like this was published’. So too were the feelings from the design education area. We were buoyed by support from design educators and their willingness to give feedback to hone the content.

It has been a complete labour of love, and would be nothing without my co-authors and the design community. But it just goes to underline the message in our book: Australian design is about the collective. And the collective is filled with lovely, talented people. And I thank you all.

The book was published in October 2011 – mere weeks after bub was born. And yes, I was furiously working on this book whilst heavily pregnant, praying that it would be finished before the baby arrived!

Yesterday, I received and email from my publisher informing me that we are going to our first reprint – already! Amazing, obviously there really was a need and people are responding to it.

One of my favourite parts of writing this book to was getting in contact with and having chat to some of my favourite Australian and NZ designers, especially for the spotlight features (of which there are two in every chapter). I was super chuffed to interview the following people for the book: Justin Fox, Australian Infront;  Lara Burke, Frankie magazine; Dean Poole, Alt Group; James de Vries, de Luxe & Associates; Beci Orpin; Jeremy Wortsman, the Jacky Winter Group; Kris Sowersby, Klim type foundry; Wayne Thompson, Campbell Milligan, Monster Children; Rueben Crossman, Murdoch books; Brad Eldridge, Soap Creative; Alister Coyne, Hair Cow; Sophie Tatlow, Deuce Design; Vince Frost, Frost* Design, Rita Siow, AGDA.


Art director and cover designer: Me
Cover illustration: James Gulliver Hancock
Internal design and typesetting: Em&Jon Design

And to add to the coolness, a few weeks ago I had a complete rockstar moment at bookstore Kinokuniya in Sydney.

One of my dreams was to have the book stocked in Kinokuniya’s vast and well researched design department. So I was giddy with delight when I found that not only was it in stock, but they had multiple copies on prominent display.

As I stood there giggling, my mother was snapping away. Photographing me, the book, the store – everything. I had thought to be slightly more surreptitious but there was no disguising my proud mum. So instead I approached the design department counter and informed them that I was not some random weirdo but rather the excited author of that lovely pink book over there. And as it was my first ever book published and as we were excited they had it in stock, we were taking photos – if they didn’t mind.

Not only did the ladies not mind, they invited me to sign a few copies! Embarrassed, I declined only to be persuaded by them (and my mother). So I ended up signing 5 copies. At a lost as to whether to personalise them (‘Stay classy’, ‘say no to drugs’, etc), I went with just a signature and heart.

They even posted about the signing on the Kinokuniya facebook page!

Total. Rock. Star.

When last in Kinokuniya, just before xmas there was only one signed copy left (the display copy)!

So that is the (abbreviated) story of how I became a published author. I wonder what 2012 will have in stock for me?

I found out last week that {Graphic Design} Australian Style Manual has been shortlisted in the Australian Publishers Assoc. Book Design Awards, for best Tertiary Book Design. Winners are announced 17 May 2012, fingers crossed.



We won best designed Tertiary and Further Education book at the APA Book Design Awards!