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Swoon Design: The Art of Pinspiration

Hello Swoon! My name is April Ward and I'm an Art Director for the Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. Most people who know me know that I'm a little obsessed with Pinterest, but they may not know how much it influences the way that I work. It all started innocently enough... in the beginning I would pin ideas for my personal life like recipes, interior decor, kid's birthday parties, some fine art, etc. Then a few years ago an editor and I were researching artists for a project together and she invited me to share her secret board of illustrators. This is where my Pinterest use changed completely! It was such an easy way to catalogue shared ideas and find new artists! Since then Pinterest has been my go-to source for design inspiration, ideas on art techniques, and for researching illustrators. (And still just a bit about kid's birthday parties.) 

Here's a bit of an overview of how Pinterest helps me stay inspired with my day to day workflow... I try to keep track of covers I love of course. I separate them into middle-grade and YA. Here are some recent  middle-grade favorites. I love seeing them all together at this size—it shows what titles pop, what colors work, what images are the most dramatic and appealing.

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​Yet most of the design work I pin for inspiration isn't actually book related! I also have boards for great movie posters, typography, photoshop tricks and techniques, interesting color combinations, etc. I have one board just called DESIGNY with things I find online that don't really​ fit into any category. Those are mostly rock posters, beer labels, and logos I like. Here's a little snippet from my color combination board... I love seeing color palettes that I never would have thought of working together so elegantly. Sometimes when I'm stuck on a design and it's not working I'll look here for ways to change the palette and give a design new life. Check out that White Sox score book cover art! I would never have thought to put those colors together yet it's such a classic vintage look.

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Lastly I love Pinterest for collaborative design! Over the years I've had a few really awesome opportunities to collaborate with other designers. I love seeing what inspires other people and then figuring out how to combine elements and make different visions work together. One of my favorite collaborations was with former Swoon designer and friend Anna Booth. We worked together on a "Based on a True Story" series that were fictionalized accounts from real figures in American history. It was interesting to see how our visions blended. We pinned old playing cards, cigarette boxes, hand lettering, you name it. In the end the book design reflected the refined inspiration in a thoughtful way, and it was fun to share the process.

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I love Pinterest because it's 100% visual. It can be all about great ideas and amazing work, it gives credit to the original artists and designers (usually... and if not it's easy to find.) And it's not at all about people's comments or having to explain why something is good. The work speaks for itself. And the more I pin imagery that I love the more accurate their algorithm for finding unique art and inspiration suggestions are. 

I swear I don't work for Pinterest, like I said, I'm just a little obsessed. :)

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April W.

April Ward is an Art Director at Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. She lives in East Rockaway with her husband and …

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