One of my classmates took a picture a few weeks ago and posted it to her social media sites. It was a picture of her boots, a carpet, and a caption that read: “It’s not aligned to the baseline grid.”
This made me laugh. Quite a lot actually. Now it may have been because I was in the throws of graduate school, up to my eyeballs in assignments with little end in sight. But mostly it was because I understood what she meant and it was funny.
A few months back, however, I wouldn’t have understood the concept at all. I would’ve thought baseline grid, what the heck? or who cares, it’s a carpet? or even man, those boots are cute (granted I still thought that, but it’s besides the matter).
Because of my InDesign class I understand what a baseline grid is. I understand that things need to snap to it (or align). And I understand the reasoning behind it.
And understanding is a wonderful thing.
Understanding, however, can also be a hindrance.
I like knowing about InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. I like having those things on my computer and dinking around with them. I like learning about them in class and turning in projects, discovering faster ways of using them, and being proud of what I accomplished. I like having a greater understanding of how things are done in the publishing world.
Because let me tell you, fellow writers, while you may work in Word, we work in InDesign. I know, I know, it shocked me, too. I love Word. I always will. But InDesign is the big player in publishing. One I need to understand and use in everyday life. But I digress.
I like knowing about InDesign. About knowing this is how the world works in publishing, regardless of it it’s a magazine spread, a book, a journal, a newspaper, or even a newsletter. I like being privy to that information.
Because of this class, I also look at things differently. (To be fair, that’s a good thing, since it means I learned things in class.) But I also judge things, too.
When the gutter is too big in a magazine I’m reading, I scoff. When the decenders of one line run into the ascenders of the next line, I cringe. When the page is just too damn dark, I wince and close the book, magazine, or newspaper.
I’ve become much more judgmental of how the layout is on a page. Which is good, but it’s also a little bad, too. Like a curse, I always analyze a page to see if everything’s correct. And if it’s wrong, I turn away. I’ve had that in my editing life, too, I tend to cringe over the fact that other editors didn’t catch some error or another, or even smile sadly because I understand how easy it is to miss something small.
I do it all the time. All the time! And, on one hand, it’s nice, because I know my editing eye is sharpening with each passing read, but, on the other, it’s a little sad because I can’t just read something… to read it, you know?
And now, with layouts, I can’t just look at something and think oh, now that’s pretty. I have to dissect why I think it’s pretty and if I can replicate it and if there’s something that I could do better.
It’s hard to turn off that analytical eye.
While I’m excited that I do look at things more critically and want to learn more about it, perhaps, sometimes, it’s also a bad thing.