Styled design: The way of the artworker


Scott West

Studio Manager

Posted on June 25, 2015

We often talk about the importance of designers when discussing great branding. But in our quest for the perfect design, it can be easy to overlook an additional role that’s crucial to building a brand that’s going to work out in the real world.

We don’t just need great designers; we need skilled artworkers too.

It’s the artworker’s role to take a creative vision and make it useful to an organisation. It’s their job to keep things consistent, transferable, cost-effective and allow for growth – all factors that are fundamental to a brand’s success.

The importance of tidy design

An artworker’s process involves, out of necessity, a lot of tidying up. Designs may come from the designer in a form that looks good, but that proves almost impossible to work with by anyone but the designer themselves. Text boxes with different stylings, manually-drawn tables, random layering and hard returns to make things fit all look fine to us, but if anyone ever needs to change anything, they’ll quickly hit big problems.

It’s here an artworker comes into their own. Their polished design may look exactly the same as the designer’s version, but it will be in a usable form that will make your branding and marketing projects run like clockwork.

Planning for the future

Organisations need their branding to be flexible and easy-going. Marketing projects can involve a diverse range of people across multiple departments and agencies, and branding needs to be able to respond to changing factors over long time-periods. The same people that work on a design in the beginning may not be there a year or two down the line when you’re ready to launch a new branded campaign or product line

An artworker looks at the bigger picture of branded design, thinking about who will need to interact with it both now and in the future, and what might maximise its potential use. What looks like a lot of fussy changes and nit-picking in the beginning is actually about infusing design with a ‘no big deal’ functionality that’s well worth it in the long-run.

Design, after all, is a long-term investment. It needs to be able to grow and change as the business and its opportunities do for it to be worth what can be a substantial outlay and commitment.

The four crucial factors

Central to successful branding is the ability to keep a brand consistent across many platforms and types of literature. By styling four aspects of the design, artworkers help to make this possible.

1. Paragraphs

Paragraph styles are what help to keep text looking how we want it to. Making sure text has the right text style applied means the same ‘rules’ are applied automatically wherever the text is used, by whoever is using it. These rules incorporate character attributes such as font, size, style, and colour, along with paragraph attributes such as indents, alignment, tabs and hyphenation.

Text that hasn’t been formatted correctly has a tendency to take on a life of its own, changing and misbehaving as it’s moved and edited: a massive headache for anyone trying to work with it.

2. Tables

Tables, if anything, can be even more frustrating if not styled well. By formatting table and cell styles and applying consistent style rules, rows and columns will all look uniform and allow data to be added and edited easily, without throwing off the design.

3. Threaded text

Threading text links text areas so that text automatically flows from one to another. If we think of text boxes as separate ponds, then threading is the drainage system that joins them to stop one flooding, evenly distributing the contents.

This can be a huge help, especially in big, copy-heavy financial brochures, when you’re supplied with new, updated copy to replace existing text. No more cutting and pasting to try and make content fit defined text areas – threading will let it flow neatly through the document automatically.

4. Anchored objects

Anchored objects help text, images and tables flow and work together, rather than just sitting on top of one another.  As text is moved and amended, anchored objects will allow the text to move and flow around them – no more randomly floating objects that you have to try and reposition whenever you make even minor changes to your copy.

We think artworkers are the unspoken heroes of great brand implementation. It’s always worth valuing their role and making use of design agencies that recognise their importance.

It’ll make your life easier, and your brand go further.