07 February 2019

It’s dangerous to go alone! Getting help from campus offices and staff

Sometimes, we academics believe that we have to do everything ourselves. We have to write, teach, research, analyze, manage, lead, critique, and design.

Consequently, people are far too likely to take “do it yourself” (DIY) approach to poster design. This leads to people searching the web and grabbing crummy, low resolution images instead of figuring out better alternatives.

We forget that our campuses have professionals who can help us with some tasks. It’s easy to forget because often those staffers have more contact with administration than faculty and students.

For example, lots of campuses have offices and staff that can help with:

Oversized printing. As the cost of plotter printers has come down, more campuses have one somewhere on that can be used for printing posters instead of sending them to professional printers and having to ship them back to campus.

Graphics. Who do you think makes all those campus fliers and promotional material? These offices are sometimes in university relations or news or some other place, but most universities are going to have staff tucked away somewhere who are busy creating the look of documents the university puts out. And let’s admit that universities put out a lot of documents.

Some bigger campuses have their own campus press, with people who are experienced in technical printing and design (though perhaps not large format documents).

Photography. Again, universities are always needing photos of events for news and promotion, and have photographers on staff. They are often looking for shots of faculty and students doing stuff. Contacting a staff photographer might be a great way to get a compelling visual for your poster.

I would love to have a photograph as striking as this one on my poster. Click to enlarge (it’s big)!

Photograph of researchers on dried, cracked mud

This photo was taken by David Pike, a photographer on my university. I don’t think this is the sort of image that a professor or grad student taking a few snapshots with their smartphone would be able to make very often.

I could easily see this sort of dramatic image as the centerpiece for a big conference poster.

Admittedly, offices and staff vary. I’ve been in some universities where there were dedicated staff photographers in the department, while at others, you have to go to another office some where across campus. Some are easy to collaborate with. Some are a little more reluctant, since they have their own work to do. And some get in the way more than help, more interested in maintaining the university’s branding than design that is suited for the task.

They may be other offices and staffer who can lend a hand if you poke your nose around and ask.

Related posts

Finding photos
Misplaced priorities on institutional templates

Photo by UTRGV photograph David Pike. Hat tip to him for prompting this post.

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