Every month or so we’ll be doing a Q&A with an OTW volunteer about their experience in the organization. These posts express each volunteer’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today’s post is with Kat St. Pete, who volunteers as a graphics volunteer with OTW’s Communications Committee
How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?
On bare bones, I get to make pretty things for the OTW. I’m one of the graphic design volunteers. Whenever there’s an announcement to be made or a news post, me or one of the other graphic designers will make a banner that visually represents the post and its content, and helps to entice readers to read more. It’s a little bit of advertising and a little bit adding another dimension to the content.
What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?
Usually I will receive an email with a milestone assigned to me. The milestone is the due date for a graphic and the title of the post it relates to. I’ll look up the post and read the draft to get an idea of what the major themes or points are. Then I try to think of a cool, interesting way that can be represented visually, something that will hook readers or touch on the emotional undertone of the post.
We’re given a lot of freedom with our designs, which is great. Every week I can play with something new and let my imagination run wild. My style leans a little bit more to drawing graphic elements that are twists on basic shapes, but every so often I also will use photographs and edit from there. I really love colour so I always try to pick a colour palette I want to work with, based on the feel of the post.
When the due date comes, I’ll upload the banner to our main file hosting page and notify the communications team. Every once in a blue moon, I’ll get an email that something needs to be changed or edited slightly for various reasons. I work in Photoshop and hoard PSDs (image resources), so I try to give a quick turn around of only a few hours to implement those changes. Some weeks I’ve had multiple banners to create, which is the same process times two or three. That’s really what a basic banner creation process looks like for me.
You created the banner for the Five Things series — can you tell us about that?
Five Things was a really fun banner to create. A lot of the banners I’ve created are for one specific post and then don’t get re-used. Getting to create a banner for a series is different. It needs to be something that applies to a lot of contexts, some which I may not be able to imagine or didn’t think of when creating. So it needs to be a timeless design. I decided to use OTW colours for that reason, the red and grey, as well as because it’s a series about us! (My fellow volunteers and me.) I knew I wanted to play with typography, in order to give the banner wider applicability, and I wanted it to have some kind of quirky, fun, creative element.
I think most people like to show off their music collection or film collection as something they’re proud of, but for me, it’s my font collection. I love being able to work with different fonts. There was nothing in my collection, though, that had the right aesthetic or offered as much contrast between letters as I wanted. So I wound up drawing each of the letters in “Things”. I also knew I wanted a graphic element to represent speaking or communication or responding to questions, so I added into a speech bubble next with the OTW logo.
Once I had those two elements in place, the rest came together easily. It was mostly making sure that there’s a right level of detail to keep the banner visually interesting and adding in some contrast. And then I had the final banner!
What’s the most fun part of volunteering?
For me, it’s seeing all the different topics that come up. Every time I get a new milestone assigned, I love going through the draft post and learning about all the different conversations being had, or different activities people are doing, or discovering new fandoms that sound awesome. Each post kind of feels like a mini graphics challenge, with the prompt being the theme of the post. I like the challenge of how to turn an abstract concept into something concrete and visual. I’ve been a huge fan of the OTW since the organization was founded, and it’s incredibly rewarding to get to be a part of something that does so much for the community and cultural movement that is fandom.
What fannish things do you like to do?
I’ve been involved in fandom for going on seventeen years now. Fandom had a huge influence on me in my teenage years and 20s in terms of the types of conversations that were being had and the amount of fantastically smart, cool, creative people to interact with. Being involved in social things, like online discussions or attending cons is something I love.
On the creative side, I like to do a bunch of different things. Back in the days of LJ, I used to make a lot of icons and LJ headers. Now I make GIFs on Tumblr or other graphics. I like participating in graphics challenges. I’m also trying to get back into writing fic after taking about six years off from writing. Last year, I successfully completely my first Big Bang, and I’m in the middle of hopefully completing my second right now. Fingers crossed!
Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments.