Earlier this semester, I found myself in the precarious position of being the only design staffer present during open house. As a young freshman interested the Texan stood beaming in front of me, I was momentarily mute, contemplating how to best explain that my department is the physical embodiment of the “This is fine” meme without scaring her away. I wound up spouting something about how design works with every department, is responsible for laying out pages and sending the paper to print. But design is a more complicated mistress than that.
Design is a department that doesn’t often get noticed. As Peter tells us at the beginning of every semester, we’re vital to the production of the Texan, but you probably won’t hear anything about us unless something has gone horribly wrong. And things do go wrong. But learning to roll with the punches and still meet deadline is the essence of working design.
Design is getting hit with management-copy-news-photo standing over your shoulder like the ghost of Christmas future at 10:30 p.m. Design is sports stories that come in an hour before deadline, photos and illos that somehow don’t exist, fonts missing and picas wrong, and making liberal use of house ads and white space. Design is predesigning for an hour, waiting four hours for content, spending two hours redesigning and placing that content, and then frantically working the last hour to make deadline. Design is looking management in the face and saying, “Everything is going to be fine” when InDesign is literally deleting stories off the page.
But the amazing thing about design, the thing I couldn’t figure out how to describe to a freshman who's never worked here before, is what it feels like to meet deadline, regardless of what happened during your shift. It’s seeing all the amazing content from every department, and the sense of accomplishment that you’ve managed to bring all of it together. That’s the sense of accomplishment I’ll take away from working at the Texan.