More nice notes

Following up my last post is another collaboration with Robert Senkewicz and Rose Marie Beebe, a very short book for the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library. We’ve done a few of these booklets, all 7×10 and in full, glorious color.

A nice note came from the head of the SBMAL, too!

I saw Rose Marie and Bob at the Western History Association conference in Portland last month. They were being celebrated by the University of Oklahoma Press for their tremendous work on Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary (Before Gold: California Under Spain and Mexico), which played a role in the recent canonization of Serra by Pope Francis. The book is selling really well (of course, it’s got color illustrations—these two love color in their books) and was added to the archives at the Vatican, a first for me! (I was the designer for the book. I’ll do a post of the whole Before Gold series that the Serra book is in later this year.) I also met in person for the first time Peter Blodgett, whose Motoring West inspired last year’s Christmas card! (Looks like I need to write about this series too–the design is awesome.) My workload has been very full this year, and I’ve got a growing list of projects that I’m looking forward to displaying here. Maybe in December, when (if?) things slow down!

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More Spanish magazines

This spring, I worked on some online magazines for my frequent collaborator Rose Marie Beebe at Santa Clara University. (See here for a previous iteration of this project.) Her Advanced Spanish Writing Workshop does a wide range of articles (on travel, food, interviews, book and movie reviews, and editorials, plus advertisements and crossword puzzles) over the course of the semester, and then I get the fun job of making it all into three 70-page magazines! It is such a joy to work in bold, vivid color, and since it’s all onscreen, resolution and length–always a concern with print design–is not an issue.

I had a terrible time editing all of my favorite pages down to a handful, so instead, here’s a big gallery. The students did a great job choosing the most striking images, so the advertisements especially came with a lot of inspiration.

I heard from many of the students. Here’s one of the messages:

Dear Ms. Smith,

Hello, I am one of the students from Santa Clara University that had the opportunity to work with Professor Beebe to write content for the Spanish magazines. I just wanted to say that the graphic design for the magazines are phenomenal; I very much love the fonts, style, placement of the pictures, colors, and just about everything that went into them. Thank you very much for your hard work in designing them. I’m sure you had as great of a time creating them as we did while writing the articles.

Have a great day!

Thank you,

Also, from Dr. Beebe:

I wish that I had taken a photo of them as they saw the pages of the magazines appear on the screen in class. They were stunned, to say the least!

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A new summer issue

The summer issue of Overland Journal is at press. Here is a little sample of the pages:

First is the table of contents for the issue–I realized that I’ve never shown what page 1 looks like! It’s a great way to show readers a peek at what is inside.

And this is Looking West, the column that closes most issues. The author always comes up with neat images that are easy to beautifully showcase. (I’ve also shown samples of Looking West here.)

And finally, we got so many wonderful compliments on the spring issue! Here’s one from longtime OCTA member Ray Schoch that made me especially proud:

This might have been the best issue of OJ ever. The lengthy piece on training and use of oxen is the first comprehensive treatment I’ve seen – which probably means I’ve not read nearly as widely in the trail field as some of the more dedicated trail scholars would like me to. Loved that cover photo. If Dixon Ford had been in period costume, I might have had to frame this cover and put it alongside that 2007 issue that featured my own photo of Mitchell Pass through Scott’s Bluff.

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Little advertising cards

The front side of the card, with the cover and a short link to the book on Amazon.

The back side of the card, with a brief synopsis of the plot.

I recently made up some business cards to help a recent author spread the word about his new ebook. The author was very appreciative:

WOW! And a big thank you for those great looking cards. It’s obvious you put some thought to the cards design and Rose and I are thrilled with them. . . .

The cards look great and I can’t thank you enough. Now I have a mission! Get those cards out!

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Mailing wrap of the spring 2015 Overland Journal

It’s been a really busy spring, and I’ll be writing more soon about some of the projects that have been underway. First up: the spring 2015 Overland Journal, which is currently being mailed to OCTA members. Remember, we do an extra, black and white cover on the outside of each issue to protect it from the ravages of post office processing. It’s a really fun opportunity to highlight what is in each issue. Lately we’ve been choosing wry bits of humor from an article, and this issue is no different.

I also want to share the cover of this issue, because the colors are outstanding! You can practically hear the salt flats crunching under the heavy feet of ox Ruff. We have never run an image featuring a person, but once I saw this one, any other choices disappeared as contenders.

Cover of the spring 2015 Overland Journal

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First true ebooks

Here are the covers of a few ebooks on Amazon that I designed. Ebooks made for the Kindle are not what I usually do–they lose almost all of the design work and polishing that I do in a print book–but these were fun little projects anyway. I love designing covers, and these were a nice change from the historical images that I usually have to work with.

First, BlindSight by Max Shell, an FBI/terrorism novel (my first book of fiction, actually!). The author had the idea of sunglasses (worn by the blind heroine) with a cracked lens, and he also wanted some kind of black/white divide. Here is what I came up with:

Next, two books by Katie Carey Louden: Autobiography of a Universe: A Cycle of Sacred Poetry and Kindling Brighid’s Fire: Recovering from Burnout. The author’s artwork is featured on both of these. I especially like the Autobiography cover; the simple, careful type compliments the colorful swirl so elegantly.

Finally, Anodynes and Nostrums: A Century of Patent Medicines for Infants and Children by Anita Britt is now available for the Kindle, too! I previously wrote about this book here. This book has a lot of color illustrations, so doing an ebook file was a good choice for it, as color printing can be cost prohibitive—but running the images in grayscale would have dulled their effect considerably.

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Merry Christmas!

This year’s Christmas card came from a book that I worked on for much of this year: Motoring West, Volume 1: Automobile Pioneers, 1900–1909, edited by Peter J. Blodgett. The book is full of pithy quotes like this one, and I highly recommend it–look for it from the University of Oklahoma Press later this winter.


From Hrolf Wisby, “Camping Out with an Automobile,” Outing 45, no. 6 (March 1905), in Peter J. Blodgett, ed., Motoring West, Volume 1: Automobile Pioneers, 1900–1909 (Norman, Okla.: Arthur H. Clark Company, 2015), 143.

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The silver lining?

This article from reminds us of one of the perks of finding a dread mistake in a book:

typos can help discern a first printing from a second

A mistake is always terrible to realize, but it is a bit of a gift to future bibiliographers.

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From a fan

A pretty happy message to wake up to, huh?

Good morning!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for another SUPERB presentation of our work!!! I just downloaded the file that Stephanie sent and I started to cry. I am so happy with what you have done with our manuscript. NOBODY could have equaled your creative eye and attention to detail. I thank you so very much.

Time to start looking at the pages!!! This is like winning the lottery!

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One of my favorite parts of the design for Overland Journal is the title page for each article. Shown here is the feature article from the summer 2014 issue, which was completed in August. Interesting lettering on top of a striking image help catch the reader’s eye and draw them in to the text, and it gives me a chance to use swashes and ornaments, like that loop off the ‘s’ in ‘arrieros’.

Shown here also is a variation on the idea. This is a regular column run in each issue, but we usually only have two pages to devote to it. The author often sends a beautiful image that would not make nearly the impact if run at a quarter or even half page, but the space considerations prevented giving it a full page with just a title. So here we do the title plus the first paragraph on the nice open sky, while allowing the subject of the photo (Oregon Trail landmarks Courthouse Rock on the left, Jail Rock on the right) much larger than we’d otherwise be able to. I also like to set off the beginning of articles by this author (Dave Welch), as the topic of trail preservation is an important one to the organization (the Oregon-California Trails Association), and his writing style–not too flowery and to the point–suits the highlight.

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