The Cranky

The following is excerpted from the parting words of The Cranky Typographer's Book of Major Annoyances.

If you read the entire book, you were, at times, likely either amused, annoyed, or baffled by its purposefully impatient tone. In the interest of full disclosure, I attribute my crankiness on the subject in great part to another life's work outside of the publications field. In the middle of, and for a time parallel to, the long career in publications, was a long career as a performing artist. Through the years I had the good fortune to work with the finest artists in their respective specialties, many of whom became mentors and role models: wire-walkers, acrobats, unicyclists, and others who lived life as paragons of preparation, discipline, and devotion to their craft.

There was a reason for their maniacal attention to detail, and I can tell you why from first-hand experience. When I worked as a circus artist --- performing stunts while riding the high giraffe unicycle, or contorting atop a stack of precariously teetering rola-bola platforms, or balancing on the giant free-rolling globe --- all it would take was just one overlooked detail, or a careless attitude in practice, or a millisecond lapse in concentration, to result in not just a sub-par performance, but maybe an early grave or a lifetime in a wheelchair. I can tell you that this attention-to-detail attitude stays with you, even after you leave the stage.

When I returned to the "civilian" world, there was culture shock. I had kept current in the publications field with freelance work, and certainly my earlier work as a journalist demanded up-close familiarity with all facets of our society. But circus arts must have taken a toll: Now I had little patience with the unmotivated and myopic in the everyday working world. A latent character flaw?

Speaking only for myself, I make enough dumb little mistakes even when I'm trying my best, that I can't afford only a half-baked effort. When I work for clients today, there's no risk of breaking my neck, but the approach of the attentive craftsman remains a matter of pride. Make it a matter of pride for you, too.

- R.W. Bacon

The Cranky Typographer's Seminar:
Helpful Graphics Tips
for Do-It-Yourself Designers

The Cranky Typographer's Helpful Graphics Tips for Do-It-Yourself Designers is a self-contained illustrated lecture presentation, with digitally-projected graphics illustrating the presenter's key points. The program's content is based on The Cranky Typographer's Book of Major Annoyances: Helpful Graphics Tips for Do-It-Yourself Designers, by veteran journalist, editor, publication designer, and typographer R.W. Bacon.

Topics include an introduction to typography, readability & legibility, body text, display text, spacing, typographic style, an introduction to design, typeface choice, working with photos, executing a layout, and digital file preparation. Each registered attendee receives a copy of The Cranky Typographer's Book of Major Annoyances as a take-home study guide to reinforce the material covered in the lecture presentation.

This seminar is designed for the do-it-yourself designer --- which means just about everyone with a computer on their desk. Today almost everyone in business is, at one time or another, called upon to be a "designer-by-default," but with little or no training in the craft. For many who will not be attending this seminar, the question is "What craft?" For others, who have arrived at the notion that there is more to this "desktop publishing" stuff than turning on the computer and typing, this seminar will be an eye-opener leading to greater understanding and improved quality of work. Therefore this seminar is ideal for corporate advertising, marketing, & design departments; public relations & publicity departments; small business groups; non-profit volunteer organizations; professional associations; and indeed all who use type and image to communicate on paper or on the Web.

The presenter's entertainingly cranky persona, combined with the humorous examples of malfunctional typography and design, ensure that attendees remain awake and alert --- and more importantly, that they retain and use the information presented.

Helpful Graphics Tips for Do-It-Yourself Designers
is available in two formats:

The One-Hour Seminar. The compact one-hour program is a tightly-focused "crisis intervention," showing attendees how to identify and address the most commonly-seen typography, design, and graphics blunders. The quick-fixes imparted in this presentation --- along with follow-up study with The Cranky Typographer's Book of Major Annoyances --- will lead attendees to producing printing and graphics projects of improved appearance and function.

The Three-Hour Seminar. The three-hour program goes beyond the "crisis intervention" to explore the principles of functional typography and design based on cognitive psychology and ongoing quantifiable readability studies. Attendees learn to identify the most commonly-seen blunders, but they also learn why these blunders impede communicative function. In addition to the quick-fixes, attendees of the longer program acquire a knowledge of readability and legibility, an understanding of functional design, an appreciation of layout craftsmanship, and an awareness of the many other considerations that go into a thoroughly professional project. For follow-up study, attendees receive a copy of The Cranky Typographer's Book of Major Annoyances.

To arrange a seminar for your group, first read the Booking Information page, then contact the presenter directly to discuss details.