Wet Noses, Great Doctors & Metrics

The thing I love most about being a graphic designer/art director and artist is the myriad directions the projects that I work on can take me. Projects range from the legal realm, healthcare, festivals and events, the arts, small business branding, economic development, non-profits and last but certainly not least, books.

I love books and have had collections all over my living spaces throughout my life. It's incredible how the reading of a book can change the fabric of one’s mind with just one paragraph. To play a small part in that with book design is an honor.

Books have played a role in the design projects I have undertaken from the beginning. Oftentimes it was only the covers I worked on. The good fortune of designing covers for an author who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, winners of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Bakeless Prize, a New York Times reviewed book, and an entire series about essays has been exciting to say the least. I've also been fortunate to design the entire contents for a blind golfer’s memoir, a book about leadership, and the first edition of a children's book, as well as some magazine redesigns, a whole other topic of discussion.

A recently completed book project, Every Nose Counts: Using Metrics in Animal Shelters, holds a very special place for me. Not only did this design project come to me under incredible circumstances but it also has the potential to enrich many lives that don't even pick up books to read:

My clients requested a cover that was simple and uncluttered while conveying the seemingly complex content of metrics collection and analysis. Since the topic of the book deals with feline and canine populations, they were of course included in the graphic.

My clients requested a cover that was simple and uncluttered while conveying the seemingly complex content of metrics collection and analysis. Since the topic of the book deals with feline and canine populations, they were of course included in the graphic.

After doing pro bono work for the Pet Community Center for several months, one of its board members, who also happens to be a dear friend, recommended my services to a couple of veterinarians (Drs. J.M. Scarlett and M. Greenberg) who were writing a book to help animal shelters, veterinarians and their staff “improve their operations and enhance the welfare of their animals if they collect, summarize and interpret data wisely.” This was and is a huge but worthwhile endeavor that has the potential to improve the lives of many animals and the people who serve them. And yet the important subject matter can be a bit dry upon reading.

Therein lay the challenge I was eager to undertake: make the information not only something people could comprehend well upon reading but also more interesting than it might be with just basic and sometimes boring bar charts and bullet points. It was an exciting undertaking and the process couldn't have gone more smoothly from my perspective.

Charts of numbers can look pretty bland and homogenized without the use of prioritized emphasis in the graphics. Color and type treatments were used to not only differentiate the importance of information but also create interest in order to keep the reader reading.

Charts of numbers can look pretty bland and homogenized without the use of prioritized emphasis in the graphics. Color and type treatments were used to not only differentiate the importance of information but also create interest in order to keep the reader reading.

The project called for many types of charts and figures to be created and utilized throughout the book which I initially knew only a little about. The research and learning process was only part of the fun in creating various graphics which will ultimately keep viewers interested. The greater challenge was keeping these graphics on the same page and/or spreads where they were referred to in the text without big gaps left in the pages. Photos made this challenge a bit easier.  

The project called for many types of charts and figures to be created and utilized throughout the book which I initially knew only a little about. The research and learning process was only part of the fun in creating various graphics which will ultimately keep viewers interested. The greater challenge was keeping these graphics on the same page and/or spreads where they were referred to in the text without big gaps left in the pages. Photos made this challenge a bit easier.

 

Info-graphics were also used sporadically in the book along with adorable photos of pups and kitties. How can anyone resist the cuteness?

Info-graphics were also used sporadically in the book along with adorable photos of pups and kitties. How can anyone resist the cuteness?

The working relationship with a project that lasts for a year-and-a-half can definitely feel like a never-ending challenge to the finish line but I can honestly say that I am sad to see this project come to its completion because I enjoyed the working relationship and design process so much. It’s a joy to work with people who are just so darned smart! We each brought our unique talents to the table and the end result is something to be proud of. I beamed from head to toe when a veterinarian (not involved in the project) said this was the kind of book design she wishes she'd had in her academic studies. We can finally say, “We did it!” Now the bigger work begins.

This isn't the first time I've worked closely with someone who I'd never met face-to-face. J.M. Scarlett, DVM, MPH, PhD (far right) and I only met at our celebratory dinner after the job was approved and ready to go. M. Greenberg, DVM (center) and I met only rarely in person. Most of our work was done via the internet. How convenient is that?! (I've even had clients that I've never met in person!)

This isn't the first time I've worked closely with someone who I'd never met face-to-face. J.M. Scarlett, DVM, MPH, PhD (far right) and I only met at our celebratory dinner after the job was approved and ready to go. M. Greenberg, DVM (center) and I met only rarely in person. Most of our work was done via the internet. How convenient is that?! (I've even had clients that I've never met in person!)

None of this would have been possible without the brilliant and incredibly generous work of Maddie’s Fund. Their mission is “to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals.” They are “a family foundation created in 1994 by Workday® co-founder Dave Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, who have endowed the Foundation with more than $300 million. Since then, the Foundation has awarded more than $187.8 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, shelter medicine education, and pet adoptions across the U.S. The Duffields named Maddie's Fund after their Miniature Schnauzer Maddie, who always made them laugh and gave them much joy. Maddie was with Dave and Cheryl from 1987 - 1997 and continues to inspire them today.

“Maddie's Fund is the fulfillment of a promise to an inspirational dog, investing its resources to create a no-kill nation where every dog and cat is guaranteed a healthy home or habitat.”

Wow. Isn't it amazing the impact one life can have on the collective? Those furry creatures many of us allow into our hearts really do make the world a better place. So a very big thank you to Maddie and her very special humans, the Duffields; to Maddie’s Fund; Cornell University; co-authors and Drs. J.M. Scarlett, M. Greenberg, T. Hoshizaki; and all of the animal shelters and the people who keep them running. And a personal and heart-felt thank you to Kelly for that extra-special heart and the referral that made this special connection happen. It's truly a gift in so many ways to love what we do.