Well here we are - safely landed in 2013ville. And for most of us (designers that is) the first day back at work. The time, usually, to reflect upon the year just gone. Which, for 2012, invariably means the Olympics. Although I'm not going to go there (however much I admire the tremendous feat that Danny Boyle managed to pull off).
So what else of 2012? For me, it turned out to be a lazy blogging year. Looking back I suppose it started badly when Damien Hirst threatened to sue me. And that was such a negative energy field to come up against when all I was doing was pulling his leg. Still, look on the bright side: at least I don't live in Ilfracombe and have to look out each day at that f****ing awful verity.
But first of all a recap. Right back at the start of my career I applied to join the Chartered Society of Designers. I'm glad I did. And I was a very happy member for 30 years or so - and sometimes a very active one. And it's how I got to meet one or two of my design heroes - Brian Webb included.
I thought that might be the end of the matter. But no, the subject keeps on popping up every so often. And it's the most active off-line subject on this blog, because I'm regularly contacted by members or ex-members who are very upset. Upset because like me they've dared to ask some questions - and they've experienced the same sort of response. And its not the way that loyal members ought to be treated.
So here are just one or two of the concerns (and I voice these as a gesture of friendship, not as an attack upon the integrity of those who are responsible for running the society).
95% of the society's income is spent on its staff (according to the last published accounts, that's two people) and its running costs. That has been the case for very many years. In my view, that's not in the best interests of the membership.
In 2002 the society set up a separate trading company: that company had a turnover of £5,050 in 2011 (up from £1,873 in the previous year), yet owes is carrying a liability to the society in excess of half a million pounds. Many might think that there's something not quite right there.
If I go onto the society's website today (that's 30 November 2012) I'll find out that I would be very welcome to attend a society-organised event, such as the London Focus Group. And that the next meeting of that group was nine months ago - on 27 February 2012. And I'd be left wondering why a 95% expenditure of income can't even deliver an up-to-date website.
I could go on, but I won't. I will put out a heartfelt plea, though: If you're involved in the running of the society, do take notice of what I (and others) say. I mean it kindly. I wish you well, I really do. So don't go on the defensive. Don't get angry. And don't threaten me with legal action.
Is anyone taught how to design for print these days? I only ask because a design template crossed my bows the other day: it must have originated from a designer, but a designer who obviously knew very little - if anything at all - about print. Here's a taster: body text set in 8.5pt Univers Light with -10 tracking, reversed white out of C33 M0 Y100 K16. And if you know anything about print, you'll know just how wrong that is. The odd picture caption, maybe - but not body copy on an A4 page.
And it wasn't just the type: the bleed on the outer edge was a somewhat generous 68mm. And where you might expect that the spine edge might not need a bleed at all, this one had been set up at 36.667mm.
Anyway, that's obviously the way that things are being done these days. Unfortunately.
But it did at least get me wondering. Because if you have been taught (properly) to design for print, then I would wager that you invariably set your bleeds at 3mm. And I would also guess that most printers you deal with would specify the requirement for 3mm bleeds on any artwork that you send them. There are exceptions, of course: some printers even ask for 5mm.
Why, though? Because if you visit any commercial printer (newspapers excepted) and you get to see the finishing department, then you'll probably be shown the laser-guided guillotine which can trim to the accuracy of a gnat's whisker. So why do we still work with the default bleed of 3mm? Because if a printer delivered you a job which was 3mm out of trim, you'd have every right to reject it.
Surely these days we could all manage with, say, 1.5mm? Which can make all the difference for a designer when you're dealing with a photo image with a very tight crop (yes, it does happen). And just think how much printing ink would be saved during the course of a year.
My life's taken on a different rhythm this past year. And one of the consequences is that blogging has moved down the agenda (you may have already noticed). Or it may be that blogging has lost its way somewhat, because I'm not the only one who's stopped or faltered. Partly, of course, it's the fault of Twitter. Which is a shame, because it's very difficult to talk about or discuss design on Twitter (because to do that we need pictures, don't we?).
Or perhaps it's the platform itself. Because, as Ben remarked when we last met, Typepad seems very clunky these days (Typepad please take note: Twitter's blisfully easy to use).
Anyhows, I've not completely disappeared. And there's a lot of activity goes on here, even though I might not be posting with any regularity.
The first is spam commenting. Don't you just hate it? And what do they expect to gain? Well, the fact that commenting on here can no longer be as open as it's always been - or as open as I'd really like it to be. So in future all comments will need to be moderated by me before they appear on the blog. Don't let that put you off though. I still like to hear from you. And it's moderation, not censorship, remember. I won't be doing any editing, just clearing out the junk (and all the wedding dresses that you might have noticed a little earlier today).