I’ve been a member of the International Association of Master Penman Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting since 2015. At the time I was brand new to calligraphy and had no experience prior other than reading a few books as a child. Year after year I kept coming back to it until I decided I would put some serious effort into learning. I joined IAMPETH and attended my first conference. I was overwhelmed with the skills and talents of my fellow members but determined to find my place at IAMPETH. For those that don’t know, IAMPETH is an online community of thousands of penmen from all over the world. Every year they hold a week-long conference in the United States where members spend all day in classes learning a new hand or brushing up on a old one. In addition to the day long classes there are other events throughout the night. To learn more about the conference read my overview post from the 2018 conference in Wisconsin here.
Back in 2017 I was reading an issue of the Penman’s Journal,IAMPETH’s member’s only publication, and I came across a job posting for volunteer graphic design work. I applied with a quick email saying I was interested and received a quick response back saying the position had been filled. I was amazed by this “small” community of artist and wanted a way to donate my time to help support an association that I was proud of. I was hoping this would have been it but alas, no luck. Fast forward to the Fall of 2017 when I received and email from the 2018 president, Debi Zeinert. She asked if I was still interested in helping out. They were looking for someone to take over the position of designing the annual conference registration packet. I knew immediately and without hesitation, no matter how much work or how big of an undertaking I wanted this job. I was on board and eager to start designing.
I had remembered the previous year’s registration book; it was an unorganized mish-mash collage of information that didn’t flow and wasn’t specific. As a first-time attendee, I was beyond lost on how the week went and how classes were scheduled. When I talked to Debi about the previous year’s book we both agreed it was time to start fresh. There were no rules I had to abide by and no style guide I had to follow. It was the ultimate graphic design job. A book that I got to design from scratch with no additional creative input.
I jotted down the deadlines which were very reasonable and immediately got to work. I made a list of all the things the book needed to service. It needed to be legible – universal fonts that were royalty free, computer and printer friendly, and large enough for 90+ year-olds to read. It needed to be comprehensive – a one stop shop for any question an attendee might have. What is parking like at the hotel? Can I take photos? Does my hotel room have a mini-fridge? The book needed better organization, registration info should be presented before closing night banquet info. I also wanted to use more photography in the book to help better illustrate more complex details and help convince members to attend. I had my job set out.
The first task was to find the fonts. I wanted these fonts to read well on a screen (since the registration book is digital) but also easy to read if it was printed out. I ended up on two fonts. Cantarell and Bebas Neu.
Bebas Neu was to be used in bold and all capitals for the headlines. Cantarell was to be used as the body font and bold for sub-headings. You can see an example here.
Iampeth page here on fonts
After I picked out the fonts I picked a simple color palette. I knew that each year I wanted to change the palette to differentiate it from the year before so I wanted a single color with two shades.
Next was the layout. I knew that this document was going to be seen online and one page at a time, but if the document was to be printed I wanted it to work as a book. So I opted for facing pages. I then worked on the headlines and side tabs to help navigate through each section of the book so if you were to flip through the 30+ pages you can easily navigate to what you were looking for.
The teacher pages proved to be the most challenging. I needed to fit the teacher’s headshot, bio, class description, class supplies and example of their work all on one page. This proved challenging since this would not allow me to use a grid while maintaining my rule the book had to be legible and organized. In order to use a gird for these pages I would have had to make the font small for some teachers and larger for others. I opted to have a partial grid which would allow me to break only one of my rules - partially.
Once I had my basic template created it was time to add all the media. Probably the most tedious of the parts I had to surf the web to find high-quality photos of the hotel, work with the city to get lifestyle shots of the venue and the overwhelming job of getting all the teacher bios, photos, class descriptions etc for over 20+ people. With the help from Debi I was able to get all the information and place it into the book without having to do too many revisions and changes.
Once the book was together there were small steps like adjusting a few fonts, weeding out those pesky orphans and widows and working to Ann Cobb to have it spell-checked. Since it was one of the largest design projects that I’d ever taken on by my self I was so eager to get to send it to Debi and get her response. Since Debi lives in Wisconsin and I live in California I wasn’t able to present it to her in person, something I wish I could have done to see her reaction to the piece, but her email in response was good enough. She loved it! It made her cry and she knew that it would be the best IAMPETH conference yet.
I supplied Debi with the final file as well as a printer friendly version (black and white with less design elements) as well as an additional schedule extracted from the program.
The registration packet was posted online and there was no turning back. I received many compliments from members during the conference. We had one the largest turn-outs of new members that year and I’ve now become the go-to registration book designer, designing my second book for the 2019 year with the current president, Marie Hornback. The second book only had a few changes, one to the display headline font, which previously had problems with printing for some folks, a new color change and a few adjustments to the layout. Overall I’m extremely happy with how the programs have turned out and hope that as each year passes the packet get’s better and better each revision. Below are images from the last two IAMPETH conference registration packets. Let me know what you think in the comments below. To learn more about joining IAMPETH visit www.iampeth.com.