Re: Doing your own graphics (an illustrators perspective)

Subject: Re: Doing your own graphics (an illustrators perspective)
From: "Higgins, Lisa R." <eilrh -at- EXCHANGE -dot- WCC -dot- ATT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 11:02:00 -0400

Mercedes Abels wrote:

>Michael J Maloney said:
>> Can you imagine the absurdity of a technical illustration group getting
>> together and talking about "Doing Your Own Writing / Editing". The writers
>> would have a cow.
>> It's bad enough that you (some of you) do your own (our own) trade
>> quality, professionally produced technical illustrations, but you've
>> completely lost site of the document structure and the publishing process.
>I believe we do a disservice to ourselves and to our profession by
>limiting our skills to just writing. We also ignore the realities of the
>market. Most companies are looking for the most bang for the buck. If I
>limit myself to writing, I will lose the opportunity to find employment
>and expand my skill base.

Great. Then don't limit your skills. Take some classes in illustration,
color theory, design, etc., and apply those skills to your job.

Sure, there are going to be plenty of people out there who HAVE TO do
things that are not their specialty. Illustrators may need to write,
writers may need to illustrate, engineers may need to empty the
recycling bin and answer the phone. Whatever. It's completely
understandable, and with the convolutions of the software industry as a
whole, we will ALL have to do things we are not trained or qualified to
do. (I am not qualified to take minutes or answer phones, but if I have
to, I do.)

The point is, don't underestimate the significance of good technical
design and illustration. If you MUST do it, do your best, but don't
pretend for a second that a trained professional wouldn't do better.
It's a much different thing from writing HTML or help files. That's a
skill, not a vocation. You certainly don't need to be a "programmer," as
someone suggested, to write hypertext well.

I do have a background in design. I studied commercial design in a
previous life (sadly, nowhere as cool as RISD), and did
sign-painting/business card kind of work for a time, and yes, I've
designed logos and done design work for my clients since, but not for a
moment do I kid myself that my stuff can approach the quality of someone
who is better trained and experienced in the field. If I could talk a
client into hiring a real designer, I would do it in a heartbeat.
Everyone would be better off. Karma goes a long way.

Where is this resistance coming from? Do those of you who don't think
that professional designers are valuable actually have training in
technical writing? Do you respect your field enough to realize that,
aside from a savant here and there, it's not something people can just
"pick up" on the side because they have to?

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