The cool thing about being a graphic designer for the beautiful City of San Antonio is that learning new things is a daily adventure. I work for Pre-K 4 SA, a corporation that began by through the ideas of some smart individuals that understood that early childhood education was the way to ensure a change in the infrastructure and workforce of San Antonio. Sure enough, those brainiacs were right.
I have the distinct pleasure to work under the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Sarah Baray in a capacity that allows me to take the knowledge I have learned and use technology to convey a story or a message that is easy to understand but simple enough to engage a general audience.
Tools. Being a graphic designer does not always guarantee specific software. Being a graphic designer doesn’t always guarantee creative freedom. Being a graphic designer, in my case, did somewhat guarantee what I was going to be given to facilitate better the work that I was doing.
That said, Adobe Illustrator was a must in the world of graphic design work and let me tell you, Adobe Illustrator has become my best friend. To help an audience visualize history is no simple feat. If working with an organization, then ensuring that creations match a standard of branding can be difficult.
I started with a pallet of colors. A shade of red, a shade of blue, yellow, green, and another blue filled the color palette of my Adobe Illustrator window. Then I looked at backgrounds and fills and fortunately enough, we have a handful of those (relatively the same, but with different colors). I also started with a size. This particular project was to be made to fit on a powerpoint slide.
After determining the graphic elements that included, I began to discover the slides of historical information presented in the past and worked with the CEO and my supervisor to prepare a list of historic milestone that the organization wanted to share with the council.
I placed the pieces into a linear fashion and began typing. Each part of the document split into several, and each layer had a process to access the objects. That said, I was frustrated about halfway through the project. Repetitive clicking was quickly becoming annoying, and even though I had a more extended timeframe for this project, I was able to piece together every piece to create a beautiful graphic that is now a base timeline until our next significant milestone occasion.
This project (and tool) helped me understand the need to be concise and still informative with historical graphics. Too many words would not have left this specific piece looking beautiful and polished. The project altogether was a blast, but the tool, that was not.
I have got to admit that Adobe Illustrator is easy to use the tool once played with enough, and once the user has spent countless hours on Youtube to determine best practices. The user interface is confusing unless you are used to Adobe Creative Suite products like Photoshop or Indesign. To correctly save documents, there is no easy “save” button. There is an export button, a save as, and an extraction button; all of which have different uses. If the files need to be accessed on a different computer or server, then there is also a packaging option that downloads all photos, fonts, and other media to a folder and allows other users to edit.
Adobe Illustrator is a great tool when used correctly, but without several weeks of playing with the application or several projects that require testing techniques, it is not so easy to pick up by your average Joe Shmoe.