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Turning the page: we talk to Book Design and Production tutor Nigel French

Published date
27 Jun 2019
Megan St Clair Morgan

Next month Nigel French is joining us to lead the new Book Design and Production short course at LCC. Originally from Surrey, his work in graphic design and photography has led him to work across the world, and to write a book which is now in its fourth edition. Nigel is a key figure, teaching software and design techniques via and LinkedIn Learning alongside in-person training.

We caught up with him about his book InDesign Type, his career, and about the Book Design and Production course he’s leading with us.

Type book laid upon table

Tell us about yourself: 

I’m Nigel French, a graphic designer and photographer originally from Surrey – though I’m now based in Brighton and Lewes.

What do you do:

I teach graphic design and design software alongside writing on the subject.

Where did you study:

I have an MA in history from Hunter College in New York and an MA in Graphic Design from UCA Epsom.

How did you get started?

I fell into it back in the 1980s when desktop publishing was a new thing. I temped in all sorts of different environments which gave me a wide range of experience. Through taking workshops and a lot of practice I gained the confidence to call myself a graphic designer.

You’ll be joining us to lead the Book Design and Production course… Tell us about the benefits of creating and understanding book design & production for businesses?

The design skills required to design an attractive, readable book are applicable to any design task. A trained eye, a methodical approach, attention to detail, project management, and an awareness of the history of the craft.

Top three things to remember when it comes to Book Design and Production?

  1. A book is something that people will cherish, not something that will be discarded.
  2. Books are meant to be read. Don’t let your ego get in the way of creating a pleasant reading experience.
  3. Everything you do, has been done before. Take inspiration from history.

What do you hope students will gain and takeaway from the two-week course?

An appreciation of the considerations that go into making a book. A heightened awareness of the printed page and what distinguishes good from bad typography. The skills and confidence to go on and make books and other printed material.

We love the fact the course starts from a blank page, and with no prior knowledge presumed, why did you think this was important?

To make its appeal as broad as possible.

What opportunities do you think book design and production knowledge can give?

The book is one of humankind’s greatest achievements. Anything that contributes to a deeper understanding of its place in society is inherently good.

Given the intensive nature of this course, do you hope to encourage more creatives to discover book design and production to show the wide variety of opportunities of showcasing work via this medium? The course we’re sure will attract a wide range of creatives from photographers, writers to illustrators and editors…

Absolutely. Even in an age when the majority of our information is read on screen, a book still has a gravitas that no web page can match.