Best Practices: Creativity With Covers
Improvisation has long been a staple of jazz music. So when a job came into his in-plant for a book that would detail an annual jazz concert, Robert Nourse decided to do some improvising of his own.
Nourse is a production specialist in the Campus Graphics department at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA. Though the in-plant produces printed material for the college, it also takes in work from outside customers. Such was the case with “Jubilee by the Sea,” an annual jazz concert in nearby Pismo Beach.
The concert organizers had tapped Campus Graphics to produce a book about the event, but for the past two years, the cover presented a problem. Nourse explains that it was designed in an 81⁄2x11˝ format, but the final product was 11x17˝ with a saddle stitch. He would have to impose it and add bleeds to make it work, which was easier said than done.
“There was some image shift on the digital copier that would cause the score to be off,” Nourse relates. “After two years of struggling with this, I thought, ‘why don’t I just design a new cover and see if they like it?'"
Instead of designing the cover as a one-up 81⁄2x11˝ page, Nourse created a 12x18˝ spread cover. He says he added a consistent background across the entire cover, providing ample bleed room to help improve the production process when he would later cut, score and fold the books.
He explains that he had no intentions of charging the customer for the redesigned cover, as it was something he did of his own volition to make the books easier to produce and provide an enhanced finished product to the customer.
“I understand the process, and the customers often don’t understand the process,” Nourse says. “I was just trying to add something to their product that would not only make it look better, but would make getting it in and out and into their hands as fast as possible.”
When the customer picked up this year’s books for the October concert, they were completed with the original cover. But Nourse showed off his handiwork and asked if the customer would be interested in using the redesigned cover in the future.
Nourse, who has a degree in graphic communications, says the customer was very enthusiastic about the new cover and gave the green light for next year’s book.
“As a designer, if you do something and the customer loves it, that’s the best feeling in the world,” he confides.
In addition to improving the appearance of the book, Nourse explains that the new cover will save substantial time on the production end. He even predicts that as many as two days could be cut out of the bindery process.
“The scoring will definitely be better,” he says. “I’ve allowed it so there will be a little bit of wiggle room. With the original cover, I had to hit a very finite point just to score it. Because of digital copier image shift, it was hard to be consistent. Now, if there are inconsistencies, it won’t matter because there’s wiggle room.”