Ocean Week Day 2: On Book Design

Senior Graphic Designer Danielle Carnito shares her thoughts on the design of Journey into the Deep.

Something you may not know about designers: we’re really quite humble. Really. When working through a design, anyway.

Different projects require different types of design, and as good designers, it’s our job to know which way to go. Design isn’t about filling up a page with the trendiest of design elements so people know the designer is cool—it’s about putting the right elements together for the project so the project is cool. When given photos like this to work with:Journey_p18
And this:
Journey_p33and many more, in a book about discovering crazy new sea creatures, the job as a designer is to put the book together in a way that shows the images in their best light. Let them be the center of attention. Don’t let the added design elements distract from the transparent glowing underwater alien-like creatures.

Let’s face it, you’re not going to make these critters:
Journey_p59 more interesting by adding a bunch of Photoshop filters and Illustrator elements to the page.

This isn’t to say there was nothing to do here—there is still a LOT of design work involved in this kind of layout. A LOT. It’s just behind the scenes. Each page is its own composition. Each chapter has its own background color (they get darker as the discoveries go deeper), which then needs to be worked in to each page’s composition. Getting photos and background colors to work together well: not always easy. And working in chapter titles and the depth-finders and page numbers (folios) and captions. (I would have been perfectly happy to leave the folios out of this book by the way, though I hear that our readers like them a little bit. I admit they can be helpful. See, designers do occasionally compromise their artistic vision….)

Moral of the design story: let the cool things speak for themselves. Now, you—intern! Go get me some fresh coffee and minty gum! I must have fuel to create such greatness!