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Designing for Print – The LAFD Gala Program

By on Dec 4, 2008 in Blog, Print |

Each year, the Los Angeles Fire Department throws a benefit gala to raise money for the Historical Society to fund their various programs and projects throughout the year. At each seat is a set of gifts donated by sponsors and printed material designed and produced by R|com Creative. As the designer of the program book, the short timetable and the reliance on multiple sources of information proved the most challenging elements, but the finished product was well worth the effort and time spent.


The first step to any project is to gather requirements, and the provided instructions were, in this case, extremely minimal, giving me extreme freedom in the direction of design.

Rudimentary outline for the project

Rudimentary outline for the project

Knowing that there was dramatic imagery available, I turned to the task of addressing one of the concerns with the previous years’ programs – the lack of a unifying design for the material. The task was set before me to create a design which would be able to showcase both the history and future educational plans of the Historical Society.

Design Elements

With a historical story, individual articles, and an overall look and feel to the book to create, programming and design experience meshed into one thought: combining inheritance with the necessities of maintaining an interesting presentation. Starting from a blank indesign document on the workstation, a rudimentary design was sketched out on paper and the different elements laid into the nascent document, leaving room for the design of the book around it.

Master page design for the book

Master page design for the book

Interior page masters

Interior page masters

The Waiting Game and Final Press

Depending on government agencies and corporations means that there can be miles of red tape to slog through, but once the deadline looms, work time seems to compress into a perpetual state of overdrive, as letters and advertisements pour in during the final week.

Interior page, with content

Interior page, with content

Even with all that, though, the program was ready well in advance of the date, thanks to the diligence of the staff at Sir Speedy of South Orange County, with their dedication to perfection and willingness to work with our specific needs.

Final Thoughts

In retrospect, there’s probably a little more that could have been done, but I’m happy that there were no errors or misspellings reported, and there were even a fair amount of people came up to complement us on the book. Not to be overly immmodest, but an overwhelmed and appreciative customer does wonders for the feeling of accomplishment that comes with any project. In the end, the program is only a small part of the entire even that was put together with months of work, but it was felt great to be praised for our collective efforts in putting this together.

‘Til next time,


Gala place settings

A job well done.

BONUS: Download a pdf copy of the program here to see the final product!