Tag Archives: graphic design


I’ve been working on a family history book on the family of my maternal grandparents, Stanley Davis and Marian Bohnsack.  I write a genealogy blog, ForgottenHistory.net, which shares my research.

I finally finished the book which I’m publishing the book through Blurb.com.  I ordered a proof a few days ago and should receive it by September 13 .  I purchased the swatch set in July and I’m glad I did.  For the book, I chose ProLine Pearl photo paper, the ProLine White end sheets, and the ProLine Oatmeal hardcover linen.  It cost about US$110 for the 220-page proof.  Considering it’s 49¢ per page for plain color printing at Kinkos, it seems a reasonable price.

Here’s the cover and a few pages from the book:

Book Designing using BookSmart

Back in 2004 or 2005, I started working on a family history book that I decided to publish through Blurb.com. Genealogy is one of my favorite hobbies and I thought it would be the best way to share the information with interested family members.

At the time, there was no Adobe InDesign plug-in offered, only the BookSmart software.  Of course, as what happens with personal projects, it got put on the back burner because other matters took precedence.  Jump ahead seven years, and I decided I HAD to finish this project.  I still had the original BookSmart document and – miracle of miracles – the latest BookSmart software recognized the saved document and opened it up!


Today, there is a InDesign plug-in so I had a decision to make.  I debated – do I continue using the BookSmart software or start over in InDesign?  I decided to stick with the BookSmart software since I was too lazy to start over. Of course, I didn’t think my targeted 50-page book would balloon to 220 pages!   If I knew then what I know now, I would have made a completely different choice.

Honestly, I think the software is perfectly acceptable and appropriate for the vast majority of users.  Overall, a good free software.  My #1 complaint is the control over fonts and text – unfortunately there is very little.

Font selection is minimal and I understand why end-user fonts are not supported.  But there are basic font capabilities that are missing and/or severely limited in this program.

  • No Leading!
  • No Kerning!
  • Character and Paragraph styles and the ability to name styles.  (the standard styles offered do not even begin to fill the void.)
  • Better auto text flow.  The current auto text flow is NOT good, especially if you need to change things.
  • No superscript or subscript option

Better font control – that’s what this software needs.

Here’s a not-so basic complaint of the software:

  • EPS is not supported.  Using PNGs in place of EPS is does not provide the same result – quality suffers.

Also, I can’t tell you how many times the software crashed while I was using it.  It’s funny, I can run – at the same time – Photoshop CS5.5, Illustrator CS5.5, InDesign CS5.5, a couple of different browsers, and Outlook on my laptop with no problems. If I want to use BookSmart, I have to close everything otherwise the software crashes.  Of course it crashes anyway, just not as often.

While I will never use the software again, I think it’s appropriate for those who know little or nothing about design.

Fortunately, I’m in the final proof stage.  Once I get that done, I’ll submit it. I can’t wait to see the final printed piece.

Women’s Works

Women’s Works featured works by prominent women’s authors, illustrators, and sculptors/artists, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, Edith Warton, Kate Greenaway, Dorothy Doughty, and Elizabeth Gould. Exhibit in the A.M. Todd Rare Book Room at Kalamazoo College, April 2 – June 7, 2012, and part of the Art Hop, a program of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo.

Artwork showcased on design by Françoise Gilot. I love her artwork and this piece is so dynamic. I photographed the art, which is a strong piece to represent the works of strong and prominent female artists.  It is one of the silkscreen illustrations Ms. Gilot made for Colette’s novel “Break of Day.”

The Rise of Enlightened Sexism

This poster advertised a lecture by Dr. Susan J. Douglas, author of The Rise of Enlightened Sexism.  The departments sponsoring the event wanted the poster to have the same imagery as Dr. Douglas’ book cover.  Her publisher sent me the photo of the boxing girl and I chose the closest font I had to reflect the title. To say I designed this poster would be a stretch since the original elements are in the book cover.

Dr. Susan J. Douglas Lecture poster
Dr. Susan J. Douglas Lecture poster

Piranesi on Parade

Piranesi on Parade featured etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720-1778) and his son Francesco Piranesi (Italian, 1756-1810) from the Kalamazoo College collection, January 3 – March 8, 2012. Exhibit in the A.M. Todd Rare Book Room at Kalamazoo College.

Etching featured on poster from Antichità d’Albano e di Castel Gandolfo Descrizione… dell’Emissario del Lago Albano Di due spelonche ornate dagli antichi alla Riva del Lago Albano.

Exhibit part of the Art Hop, a program of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo.

Piranesi on Parade
Piranesi on Parade exhibit poster