Copywriters, designers – the right balance

Most things I read these days arrive serendipitously via some social media channel, mostly Twitter.

A tweet last week directed me to mashkulture.net’s post containing an infographic on the difference between copywriters and art directors. A series of illustrations portrayed the eternal differences between the two professions beautifully.

One of our favourites from the excellent infographic

Aside from being momentarily aghast at being equated with a PC instead of a Mac it was one of the finest few minutes I spent on the web last week.

As an editor type I’ve worked with many dozens of art directors, designers and artworkers over the years. My favourite ever copywriter vs designer moment happened early in my career when I was working as an editorial assistant at UK book publisher Dorling Kindersley.

At DK, at least when I was there, editors and designers used to work in teams of two on many books. Yes, there were inevitably some tensions but the model worked well for the highly visual DK titles.

The pair closest to me and my sadly underpowered PowerMac (ha!) were working on an illustrated history of the world.

One day the editor was looking over some revised screen proofs in Quark with a slightly furrowed brow. She said: “Hang on, where’s Europe gone?”

The designer, intent on a cup of tea and her own proofs, replied in a flash: “I took it out – it didn’t look very nice.”

The Renaissance, the Reformation and two world wars: eradicated with a few mouse clicks. For posterity’s sake the continent was reinserted.

No doubt the designers out there can share equally galling stories about hapless editors and copywriters. I know I’ve worked with a few. If you can share stories, please do.

Joking aside, I’ve always liked the DK model and I’ve deployed it when I can (and when appropriate) in the places I’ve worked in the 10 years or so since I left the company’s Covent Garden offices.

It’s an interesting and rewarding dynamic but, as with all things, it’s all about finding the right balance.

Follow Aled on Twitter – @mynki

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