On Adobe InDesign 2020, graphic designing industry direction and more: Iman Ahmed, an Adobe Certified Partner and Instructor [Interview]

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Gone are the days when graphic design was solely focused on the obvious graphic elements of a product like its packaging and marketing materials. Today the impact of technology and the digital revolution is huge on how we communicate, the way we work, and even the way we socialize. Graphic design is no exception to this change.

Technology plays a major role in the creation of digital work available in many fields. For example, portfolio design, presentations, signage, logos, websites, animations, and even architectural production have all traveled far since the dawn of the digital revolution. This graphic designing evolution has enabled brands with greater exposure online and enabled users with engaging and interesting graphics.

Recently, we had a conversation with Iman Ahmed, an Adobe Certified Partner and Instructor and CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer on the current graphic design industry, various design tools, and how is the future. Iman has 19+ years of solid international experience in delivering the skills of various applications, from Architecture, Graphic design, Infographics, Motion Graphics, Photo Editing, Magazine and book design, video production, 3D Modelling.

We also discussed her recently published book, Mastering Adobe InDesign 2020, a step-by-step guide to learn InDesign Framework, Workspace, Project setup, Master pages, Pages, Text, among other core features. It also explores new features in InDesign 2020 release and how are they useful to graphic designing professionals.


Adobe InDesign, a preferred choice for designing text-heavy documents

Adobe’s Creative Suite of tools offers graphic designers all kinds of solutions needed to create professional and engaging graphics. From photo editing to typography tools to sound design Adobe literally has everything covered for any type of design project.

So how can one compare Adobe InDesign with other tools, specifically with Illustrator and Photoshop?

Iman clarifies, “Adobe applications has no relation to the user’s level of experience, it is all about the purpose. Adobe Photoshop is the best application for photo editing, while Adobe Illustrator is the best used for vector design, and Adobe InDesign is created for layout design, as it has tools and options that facilitate the layout design process.”

Graphic designers use InDesign when they need to layout a multi-page, text-heavy piece. For example in print or digital, InDesign is used to layout text. It is a one-stop solution for designing a magazine, brochure or a booklet. Out of the three applications, InDesign has the most robust typesetting features available. It also integrates with Adobe Digital Publishing Solution, allowing designers to create fully interactive e-books, magazines, and other digital publications.

Key features in Adobe InDesign 2020 version

Adobe released InDesign 2020 version in November 4th this year. This release brings significant upgrades and changes as per Adobe InDesign user requests. With this release, InDesign tool now supports SVG file formats. Graphic designers will be able to use infinitely customizable fonts or variable fonts within InDesign. There is a more efficient way to place lines, or “rules,”  between columns of text. Additionally, it includes improvements to InDesign’s core performance and launch times for up to 25% faster.

Iman says about the new release, “Adobe InDesign fixed a lot of bugs in this release, and offered an improvement to resolve document corruption. Opening a particular file, saving and closing it has become faster in this release. And text editing is also faster than earlier releases.

There are a bunch of Text features which have been added to Adobe InDesign 2020 release, such as variable fonts and column rules, a new feature in spell check, plus five new languages – Thai, Burmese, Lao, Khmer, and Sinhalaare are supported in this release.”

She further discussed why InDesign is considered to be a tool of choice for Multi-page projects, and how the Master page feature is one of the key features of InDesign.

She says, “Master page is one of the most powerful features of Adobe InDesign, it acts as a template, as master page will host all common features that are needed to repeat in document pages, and any changes made in the master page, will reflect into all document pages that follow this particular master page.

Hence, a professional designer has to be smart enough in designing the document, to decide how many master pages to use in one document.”

You can read Chapter 6 of this book, Mastering Adobe InDesign 2020, to know more about Master page feature and how to create different Master pages for your document.

Iman’s education in architecture designing is foundational to her graphics designing career

Iman has studied architecture design, and she mentions that her undergraduate and postgraduate education in architecture has contributed to her success as an Engineering Applications’ Instructor and as a Graphic Design Instructor and designer.

Iman talks about her graphic designing journey and shares this quote from Frank Lloyd Wright,

The mother of art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.”

Iman takes pride and feels lucky to study the mother of all arts, which guided her strongly in her graphic designer career.

She mentions that the steps she took can be common with everyone who feels passionate about learning graphic design. Undoubtedly architecture was the cornerstone in her pathway, but gaining knowledge of tools is important too to accomplish for a good designer.

She says, “My graphic design path literally started when I used Adobe Photoshop for the first time in an architecture presentation. Then I felt more interested to learn more about Adobe Photoshop and photo editing. One year later, I started my career as an Adobe Photoshop instructor, and a graphic designer for the same training center, beside my work as an architect.”

“I taught myself more about Photoshop, plus a bunch of applications using offline help, as YouTube was not available. For years, I kept searching for design ideas, learn new applications, teach what I learnt and practice a lot. Honestly, this is not enough, to be a professional graphic designer, I still need more.”

On her inspiration to write Mastering Adobe InDesign CC 2020

Iman says, “As a trainer, it is the most joyful moment when you help others to learn and improve. For more than 19 years, I am teaching people from the Middle East, Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Asia and Africa. Their nationalities are different, but their enthusiasm looks the same. My dream is to spread knowledge and help more and more people to learn. So for me writing a book about Adobe InDesign was a great chance to share my knowledge and experience to a broader audience.

In my book I have shared 19 years of experience, it is not only about InDesign, but also about the design process. It helps both designers and non-designers to work more efficient with Adobe InDesign tool and makes them aware of the steps before implementing the design.

It covers various exercises  and examples to enhance reader’s skills, and sharpens the skills of intermediate and expert users.”

The growth story of the graphic design industry is far from over

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the graphic design field is expected to grow by 3% from 2018 to 2028, which is slower than average. More graphic designers are jumping to be freelancers as compensation is a major issue in a full time job role. Companies pay lesser salaries at a junior and intermediate level roles in the graphic design department. Hence, designers prefer freelancing as they can sell their creatives and design templates to multiple clients with less effort. Additionally, there are perks to being your own boss. For instance, you get to set your own working hours and choose your own jobs.

As freelancers are in millions all over the world, it gets difficult to track their number in the statistics while calculating the industry growth rate. And it becomes an outlier in showing the actual industry growth results thus it shows slower than the average.

Iman shared her thoughts which are on similar lines, she says, “Competition is aggressive everywhere, the first reason for this competition is the unemployment phenomenon that we are facing in this decade. Globalization and platforms that offer freelancing designers to hire from everywhere negatively affects the field and market. As some designers are cheap, as per their economy and currency standards.”

But on the other hand, working at a firm has its own perks. The company will be responsible for maintaining your work environment, purchasing equipment and software, and building a client base. And graphic designers will be more likely to work regular hours for a predictable paycheck.

On this Iman says, “If you work hard on your portfolio, and know how to network well with others, definitely you will be hired by reputed organizations.”

If you’re not sure of what to start with, it’s always a good idea to intern at a small or medium firm and gain experience in the industry. Then get to know your work style, and choose what fits best.

Graphic designers ditching corporate culture for freelancing

Out of more than 250,000 graphic designers in the U.S., almost 25% are self-employed. This number is expected to rise in the coming years due to millennials ditching the corporate culture for a freelance lifestyle.

On this we asked Iman about a typical graphic designer career graph and what some pathways available are. We also asked if professionals require a degree to enter this field.

Iman believes that ”graphic designer career path varies, and different routes can be the right pathway to the graphic design career. Your route depends on your target, would you like to be professional in logo design, branding, web design, packaging design, book and magazine design, some of them, all of them or even more!”

Further she discussed major steps that a graphic designer needs to take to start their journey.

Step 1: Learn graphic designing

Iman recommends learning graphic design in a school which is specialized in graphic designing. She says, “learning applications is not enough, applications are only tools that will help you to finish your work in a smart and easy way.  But without design fundamentals and concrete foundations, a good design will not be achieved.”

Step 2: Get inspired by others

“Don’t Reinvent The Wheel, learn from people with experience to save time,” says Iman. She suggests, “to watch others’ work, about the latest styles of design which will inspire and be another source of knowledge to learn from.”

Step 3: Practice, practice, practice!

Practice makes one perfect! Iman advises to “create more than one idea for a design and find every possible way to create a design that forms the message you need to communicate. You must sketch, re-sketch, refine your sketch, implement it and edit it, for an exclusively perfect design.”

Step 4: Read more books

Iman adds, “read more and more books about graphic design theory, history, elements of design, color theories and other books about designing. These books have in depth knowledge and a rich experience to develop designing skills.”

Step 5: Selecting the right tool for designing

Iman emphasises on being smart in selecting the tool for designing. She says, “you need to be aware, which application will help you in what task. For instance, one can create logos using Adobe Illustrator, then edit photos in Adobe Photoshop, and finally collect design elements smartly in Adobe InDesign.”

On graphic designing future and what to expect next

When it comes to the future of graphic design, the big thing on everyone’s mind is animation and VR. Digital media is rapidly becoming the future of graphic design. For more we asked Iman on what to expect next.

She explains, “All the fields such as print media, web designs, animation and VFX are ways to form a message using visual communications’ tools, and send it to the target audience, and it depends on the field to field, there is a proper way to use, based on the purpose.

Whereas in the design industry, we cannot predict what will happen tomorrow, but for sure, the competition in using visual communication tools, will always remain a major factor in the improvement of all design fields.”

Get Iman’s book, Mastering Adobe InDesign 2020 today to start exploring the InDesign workspace, the different menus, and functions, along with gaining insights into planning and executing a design. You’ll also get hands-on with creating your first project, focusing on aspects such as working with text, images, and shapes.

Author Bio

Iman Ahmed is an Architect who loves Art and Design, she started practicing Graphic Design in 1999, and during her 20 years of experience as a graphic designer, she created a lot of designs and magazines using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign.

Her passion for teaching was genuine and that drives her to work hard to be a special kind of trainers. She started her teaching career in 2004, she is an Adobe user since 1999 and an Adobe Certified Instructor since 2008.

Iman is a CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer since 2008, and she had been interviewed by CompTIA in November 2016 as a model of a special kind of trainers, who studied and applied CompTIA ( CTT+) program in a special way that successfully polished her skills and teaching style. Iman is a classroom Instructor and an online trainer who delivers courses in the Middle East and UK.

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