Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Notes from my talk

I gave a talk at Metatopia on Sunday on talking to the talent and promised to post my notes, so here they are in all their semi-comprehensible glory. That said, on a lark, I recorded the bit of advice I got from Fred, so I'm throwing that up here as a bonus (warning - hugely amateur sound - this was me in 15 minutes between calls on my laptop).


  • This will be hard because you are probably also a writer
  • Giving people work that you could do yourself requires you to conciously let go and trust


  • Tips From Fred

    Make sure that when you say something like a quarter page, define that in inches
    discuss resolution (300dpi minimum)
    Size weenies
    If you’re working in print, you want CMYK, not RGB
    Have some expectations for the image, communicate them clearly, but don’t be married to your vision. You’re paying them for their expertise.
    Do the reference image research for them if you can.
    If possible, do an art reference of These characters in these places, esp if you’ve got strongly recurring characters or places.
    If you don’t have the images, you may want to do a round of references images first.
    Make it clear to the artist what stages of the process you want to be involved in
    Maybe even roughs/concept sketches
    Try to get ONE intermediary step, just for course corrections

  • Blog: The Art OrderDifferent process, but informativeWOTC Guy
  • theartorder.com http://theartorder.com/


  • Editor Blogs
  • ryanmacklin.com http://ryanmacklin.com/
  • www.ayvalentine.com http://www.ayvalentine.com/
  • You don’t need to communicate a lot with editors once you get going BUT
  • You need to communicate your vision to them to help them help you achieve it
  • When in doubt, blame the editor.


  • Go read Robin Williams “Non-Designers Design Book”
  • Very solid crash course in understanding what the layout guy is talking about.


  • Yes, it’s marketing, even if you don’t call it that
  • Social Media
  • Evangelizers and engagement
  • Demo Teams
  • Demo Kits
  • Benefits and dangers of empowerment

Business Partners

  • Distributors
  • Shop Owners
  • Printers


  • Benefits and drawbacks of transparency
  • No bad reviews
  • Don’t be a dick - let the other guy do it

Collaboration Tools
  • Dropbox
  • Wikis
  • Basecamp
  • You WILL use MS word
  • Update schedule

Also, A hat tip to John, the editor who came up and helped me out at the talk byt talking about, well, talking to editors. You can check him out on twitter at @awesome_john or at his blog.


  1. Rob,

    Thanks for posting this and for doing this talk. I found (and felt very lucky) that I knew most of it (having married a print designer), but some of the bits and pieces like doing photo research in advance are just really smack-in-the-head brilliant. Also: your sound is actually really good - just needs a little normalizing/volume. Levelator frequently does a pretty good job with automatically working that out.

  2. Next time I try something like this, I'll do something a little smarter than recording directly into keynote.

  3. Thanks for these points Rob. I find it mightily helpful even though I wasn't at your original talk.

  4. When in doubt, blame the editor.

    People probably have little idea how often editors like me tell a writer or publisher we're working with "if people hate X, blame me."

    Which I think would be a cool think for you and I to talk about.

    - Ryan

  5. Also, I would love to hear more your expanded thoughts on those other bullet points. If needed, I'd totally help.

    - Ryan


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