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Tutor book Oct 9

York College tutor's new book racks up 5-star Amazon reviews

A new book written by York College tutor Andy Gardiner has been described as a “must have for any InDesign user”.

Designing the Adobe InDesign Way has also been unanimously rated as a five-star publication by reviewers on Amazon since its release in August.

Andy, who teaches our Creative Media students, was approached to write the book by Birmingham-based publishers Packt, who specialise in IT titles.

He had previously been encouraged by others to share his knowledge by putting pen to paper and embarked on a 12-month project that involved a lot of “late evenings, weekend work and taking the laptop with me on holidays”.

It is little wonder, therefore, that Andy admits “my family are glad it’s done”.

The end product – a comprehensive 564-page paperback tome – and the reaction from those that have read it makes all the sacrifices and hard labour worthwhile, though.

Among the other glowing testimonies given on Amazon include the following:

- “(the book) massively improved the quality of work and the pace I can complete it at.”

- “a well-structured book and easy to understand. Invaluable for anyone learning to use Adobe InDesign or enhance their existing knowledge.”

A student for two years of Andy’s multiple online courses that he runs alongside his College job also added: “Whether you're a complete novice or an experienced user, you'll find value in its pages.”

It’s that level of novice accessibility that Andy is particularly pleased to have achieved, reasoning: “It’s very nice to read the positive feedback because you can know that you know a subject, but you want to know that you have written it in a way that communicates that to people. Sometimes, there’s a danger when you know a subject well that you assume others have the same knowledge and you can also become too technical.”

That does not mean Andy has left any stone unturned in his attention to detail.

“There are differences between using InDesign on a Mac and a PC, so all of that had to be checked, because I didn’t want somebody saying in an Amazon review that they went to click a little red cross and there wasn’t one there,” he explained.

The book costs £35.99 but Amazon are also selling a Kindle edition for £21.99.

Now an Adobe Certified Instructor and CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer, Andy started using design tools in the early 1990s when he was employed in sales and marketing.

Making lay-out adjustments to adverts and designing brochures with one of the early versions of QuarkXPress sparked an interest that led to Andy wanting to learn more and more.

As Adobe InDesign subsequently became the market leader for desktop publishing and layout software both in print and digital format, Andy began to familiarise himself with its features as well as those of fellow Adobe applications Photoshop and Illustrator.

Over the years, he has amassed a total of 20 Adobe Certified Expert certifications, attending training courses and conferences in the US because he wanted “to find out how people who made the software use it”.

He is now the Managing Director of Highlander Training, a company that specialises in Adobe Creative Cloud training and, in tandem with teaching at College two days a week, he runs regular courses both face-to-face and live online, also covering other Adobe applications such as Premiere Pro and After Effects.

He has worked with clients from a wide range of sectors ranging from the Police Force to leading High Street fashion brands.

In addition to training marketing and communications departments, he is increasingly advising those who work for bids and tender teams, people tasked with compiling corporate annual reports and the public sector who are exploring Adobe’s capacity to assist with functions such as the creation of PDFs for accessibility documents.

The book, meanwhile, equips readers – even absolute beginners - with the skills needed to draft and design their own projects while ensuring their work is compatible with industry standards for print and digital documents.

Andy started work at College in mid-January, where he has helped supply students with the skills needed to create posters, adverts, magazines, books, flyers and brochures.

On working with a different audience and younger demographic, Andy said: “I like it and most of the students are keen to learn and have an interest and a passion. The software is one half of it, creative ability is the other half and, if you can help somebody portray their creative ideas on screen, that feels really nice.”

Like many of our tutors at Sim Balk Lane, Andy’s experience in workplace settings has also proved beneficial for students.

“It helps because you have come across real-world problems and had to find solutions quickly, so you have that practical experience to tackle many issues students might encounter,” he pointed out.

With the digital world never standing still for anyone, Andy knows more pages will need to be added to Designing the Adobe InDesign Way in coming years, or even months, adding: “At the moment, InDesign has not had as many big changes as Photoshop, which is moving faster than you can keep up with due to the introduction of AI (Artificial Intelligence) features. With InDesign, the changes have been more incremental, but there will be some point that bits of the book will need to be revised.”

When asked to give one tip, meanwhile, for people keen on improving their layout design proficiency, Andy advised: “InDesign is just one tool. The Adobe Creative Cloud Suite also includes Photoshop and Illustrator and I encourage people to try and use the tools together.

“With students, I always give the example of manual labour. When you use hammers, screwdrivers and drills, you switch between the tools.

“You don’t try to hammer screws in and it’s the same with Adobe – the different tools work really well together and it’s just a matter of finding out which one is the best for which job.”