Week One at the Seagull School of Publishing.
My boss is probably cursing me for quitting midway. She’s probably happy—good riddance to bad rubbish. I wonder!
I had been anticipating the commencement of the course for half a month and slightly more—the course on ‘Book Design’.
Each time somebody asked me in that half a month of ‘taking time off’ about what I was ‘doing in life’. I would—with some pride and a polished, superficial accent—tell them about the delightful course on ‘BOOK DESIGN’. Only to receive frowns, awe, contempt and, of course, a question bank:
‘Ohhh! So you mean the cover design?’
‘Really? What do you even design inside a book?’
‘Ahh, so you must be using Microsoft Word to design the pages? I know how to use Microsoft Word.’
‘But don’t you know Photoshop already?’
‘My printer has been designing my company’s annual book. Why don’t you learn from him? He will teach you for FREE!’
But here I was on the first day undeterred, even after all the explaining, excited with butterflies fluttering in my tummy like on the first day of college. New people, new friends and a chance to go back to the classroom environment—it was all going to be so amazing.
The studio looks different from the last time I was there. The walls are painted white and adorned with frames of all sizes. One of the small frames edges out of a bigger one below. It gives me a chill down the spine. I look away.
There is a bunch of equally anxious people sitting in their best clothes. First impressions are the ones that last. As we ease into small talk and hasty introductions, we are hushed up to the classrooms above. Red chairs arranged in two rows, juxtaposed against each other. Red accent walls in certain rooms and more people. More hands and feet gradually keep adding to the room till no chair remains empty. The eyes keep moving around in quick movements to grab as much information as possible. We form opinions, make little notes in our heads, think of conversation starters and do all that the little brain does.
But then we are all brought to attention by this one commanding voice. The one from the opposite row of chairs, which assures us that we will have an amazing time ahead. The humour and wit amuse us and, unknowingly, bind us into one class.
Everyone gets the pun and does not idolize Chetan Bhagat (to put in acceptable terms).
Not everyone knows the difference between CMYK and RGB, but they learn.
I learn the difference between a page and a folio and the meaning of ‘salmagundi’.
Thus ends the first week of learning with all that one needs to know about a book. Personal accounts by the commanding voice and innumerable hilarious anecdotes serve as Foreword and Afterword, and give us insights into the wonderful world of publishing that we are soon going to be a part of.
I figured: designing books is a thankless job. The ones picking them off the shelves don’t even give it a thought. But that’s the beauty of good design. It’s invisible.
Here I am, learning to be invisible.