Looking Back at the Laughter and the Learning: The Book Design Course, Jan–Mar 2016

I was reading at Level 2 at the Alliance Française du Bengale, Kolkata when I saw a poster on the pin-up board calling out to aspiring book designers and editors. After having returned home from graduating and then working in an advertising agency as a designer for the past year, the Seagull School of Publishing came to me at a time when I really needed to breathe another kind of air. Working in an ad agency day after day can drain you of your creative faculties and zap your enthusiasm for new and exciting projects. I saw an opportunity to revive the zest for experimentation, and a visit to the teaching studio (which is beautifully adorned) further moved me to join the designing students’ batch of January 2016.

Hence began a very hands-on learning experience. The first week was spent learning about the basics of publishing. The structure of a publishing house, the process of taking a book from scratch to finish, the roles of the various individuals and groups devoted to the project, the costing, publicity and distribution, etc. The designers’ batch began then to work with QuarkXpress and Photoshop, interpreting cover briefs, designing paperbacks and hardbacks, typesetting and about E-publishing via InDesign.

Also, there were master classes from industry professionals (authors, editors, sales and marketing, illustrators) from all over the world who provided keen insights into the topics we were learning about.

At Seagull, we were truly blessed with an amazing group of educators. To see the work put out by Seagull Books over the years is resounding evidence of their distinguished abilities and their inputs of time and effort and their attention to detail. Among our teachers, Sunandini ma’am played a key role for us designers to not only give us the essential knowledge but to also enhance our abilities and tastes and to help us to become better designers. There used to be times when I would work on a project for a considerable amount of time but she would look at it and say, ‘Throw it all out—and start again.’ It was after moments like this, and my contemplation of them, that I found I had learnt a little something that has since then had a huge impact on my development.

The time to bid farewell has come too soon. I leave not only after gaining the necessary skills and knowledge but also after having obtained a holistic learning experience that has left me with some wonderful memories and some wonderful friends. Though the things I have learnt shall stay with me, the everyday interactions filled with humour and laughter shall be sorely missed. The School and the course is indeed unique, especially in India, and stands as a standard for true quality teaching. With deep admiration and affection for my teachers and peers alike, I graduate the batch of January 2016 with new hopes for the future and the promise to stay connected with those I have collected in my journey at the Seagull School of Publishing.

Kritika Jhunjhunwala

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