Doing your own graphics (an illustrators perspective)

Subject: Doing your own graphics (an illustrators perspective)
From: David Hailey <FAHAILEY -at- WPO -dot- HASS -dot- USU -dot- EDU>
Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 12:14:29 -0600


Hi Michael and all,

You have touched on a subject that has bothered me for years. It has
and extension. I once said much the same thing to a group of technical
writing teachers--"Do you really know the subject you are teaching?"
They were teaching HTML, calling it multimedia, and inviting each other to
tour their ghastly homepages. I have seen that same arrogance in the
guise of engineers assuming they are writers (By this I don't mean
engineers who have become writers, but working engineers who refuse
the counsel of trained, professional writers.) I assume that this is a price
we pay for competence. We assume we can do anything to which we
set our minds.

Some of us, however, are graphics professionals as well as being
professional writers. I, for example, worked as graphic designer, art
director, publications coordinator, and mangaging editor before becoming
an editor and a writer.

The thing I wanted to point out, however, is this. We may be running
out of room to make destinctions between design and writing. The
managing editor or publications manager is as much a designer as writer.
More importantly, multimedia is as visual as it is alphanumeric. Mutimedia
editors cannot afford to be writers or illustrators or programmers. Of
necessity, they must be writer, designer and programmer. A quick
examination of positions posted by companies looking for technical
writers implies that writing is only a small component of the skill set they
employers are seeking. They want PhotoShop skills, along with C++ and
Visual Basic. I have seen Fractile Painter on skills lists for technical
writers, and for multimedia developers, I have seen Premier.

I agree with you that too often we (I mean people, not writers) assume
that we are qualified to do things when we aren't. But, on the other
hand, I became a writer because I took on assignments I probably
shouldn't have, made the mistakes you would expect, but became a
pretty good writer in addition to being and excellent designer.

So what's my point? I would recommend that you teach your illustrators
to write, and that we teach our writers to draw and that we all
learn to program. . .that is if we wish to survive the transition
communications is going through.

But then. . ."Cogito Ergo Falsus Sum."

David E. Hailey, Jr.
Assistant Professor
Professional Writing/Hypermedia
Utah State University

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