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Interview with Emily Goater, Affinity Publisher product expert

We caught up with our in-house Affinity Publisher product expert, Emily Goater, to learn a little bit more about her and her role, and to get her top tips for using the app.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into design and publishing?

Oh wow, how to start this story!? Well, I remember my parents always being very creative; my mum loves writing and has a great skill for calligraphy whilst my dad has such an amazing engineering brain. I definitely got both of those traits and turned them into something new. I was always drawing and remember when I was around six, my dad gave me a ruler which to me, was a game changer as my style always lent itself to straight lines as opposed to free hand.

In my teens, I interned at an architectural studio in Birmingham, convinced that was going to be my career, but when I saw how much maths were involved, it put me right off. I became friends with a graphic designer there, who would always show me his wonderful work and I became fascinated by the process and experimented at home.

From there I studied visual communication which I found too restrictive. Lecturers were always trying to get me to experiment with colours and ununified shapes versus my straight lines and minimalism. I’ve always had a style which people tried and failed to train me out of. But my work was featured on a message board at university which led to me meeting an amazing photographer who asked if I could help her with an idea to create a magazine to showcase unseen creative talent. We did a few issues and then moved onto other projects which helped me get into publishing. I finally felt free and structured!

How did you turn it into a career at Affinity?

I worked at Apple for nine years and I always used to demo the Affinity suite of apps to my customers. The number of features and ease of use blew them away every time, and unlike competitors, it was a one-time price as opposed to subscription. At this point I’d been running a design, branding and editorial design business for ten years, so when I saw the role of Product Expert on the Affinity website, I knew it would allow me to fully merge my two jobs into one. I would have the opportunity to be creative every day and also speak to amazing creatives about our Affinity Publisher app!

Do you have any favourite designers whose work inspires you?

I have loads, but I’ll keep it snappy. First up has to be Veronica Ditting’s work with The Gentlewoman magazine and the COS look books. When someone showed me her work saying it reminded them of mine, it was the biggest compliment I could get! To this day I think of Veronica and her studio as my editorial design mother.

Another one of my favourites is David Carson and his work for Raygun magazine. I love the typography style in his work which is experimental and just unique! It showed me that typography and words can be art in their own right.

Last but not least is Jessica Walsh, who is such an inspiration. She made me want to experiment with my palette and if you look at the way her studios use colour, it is just stunning. I should also mention that she is part of the 0.1% of females who have founded a creative agency, which is bonkers—such a massive achievement!

What’s your favourite thing about your role as a product expert?

It is super hard to pick one thing, it’s a dream job after all! But I think being able to design my own work which is used in our tutorials is up there, as I love teaching, talking and showing what Affinity can do. This involves everything from work with our corporate clients to creative sessions for our YouTube channel! I hope I am inspiring the next generation of desktop publishers.

What makes Affinity Publisher so great? Do you have a favourite feature?

The user interface is laid out logically, so it is easy to find your way. The performance is incredible, and I love being able to scroll through my magazines without having to sit and wait for a page to load to full resolution; it is all taken care of beforehand.

Favourite feature? This is a mean question because I have so many answers, but one sticks out. The Persona switching is such a time saver. I can have one app open, do an editorial layout in Publisher and then switch to the Photo Persona to edit out a makeup mark from a shirt collar which has already been placed in the magazine layout. Another example is when I use the Designer Persona to add line work like in the magazine spread below. I can just use the Pen Tool to add a ribbon effect from the model’s hands to the path text.

Are there any ‘hidden gems’ (functionality) with the software that you think don’t get enough credit/use?

The way you’re able to use smart master pages is a real gem. I love showcasing this feature. Being able to drag a different master page over another page to simply change the layout has seriously sped up my workflow. If you are meeting clients, you can quickly switch out designs without having to do each design separately and having to export them all—it’s truly awesome!

I also have to give a shout out to the keyboard shortcuts, since all our defaults won’t suit everyone. For example, I’ve changed the place image shortcut to cmd+D because it just suits my workflow better.

Are there any uses for Publisher that some users may not be aware of?

I’ve been using Publisher to create mock-ups for mobile and desktop websites with my own clients, and something I’d like to highlight is that under ‘New Document’ in ‘Devices’, there are options for page sizes to fit different digital devices such as iPad, iPhone, etc. It’s definitely worth trying these out. If lockdown has taught me anything about the evolving world of publishing, it’s that digital formats are becoming more and more popular, with books, magazines and even food menus being viewed via phones. As editorial designers we have to adapt to this change, and it is so exciting to see designers that are doing this well.

Any top tips you have for using the apps for beginners?

I’d suggest you get familiar with where all your tools are. If you have a project in mind, jump straight in and have some fun. If you don’t have a project, feel free to download some of our free content and start changing colours of the text, adding pictures frames, then images. Just keep it simple. Check out our tutorials on our website and YouTube as well. There are three product experts too, so feel free to reach out and let us help you to greatness!

What about for more advanced users?

I’m currently working on a tutorial to show you how to use Regular Expressions so look out for that. They are so handy as they extend the capabilities and power of the traditional Find and Replace panel. They’re widely used across the word-processing and DTP community, and with so many expressions available it’s hard to know them all. Friends are always sending me new ones. If you’re a more advanced user definitely try and get into using Regular Expressions as they make your life a lot easier.

We also have an advanced tutorial category on our website which I have just updated with a video on Data Merge—a new feature from our 1.9 update.

What are you doing when you’re not designing/working? Any interests/hobbies you want to share?

Well you asked for it! I love Pinterest, it is my favourite app on my iPad and I spend hours just finding interior design inspirations. I absolutely love candles (I use Glass & Wick, a small business in Nottingham) and I’m trying to read more this year (find me on Goodreads)—I’m already three books in. I spend so many hours a day with my head stuck in a magazine or laptop designing and analysing, so it’s nice to pick up a normal book for an hour. I also love going to the cinema and watching movies—my partner is always adding films I’ve never seen to our Letterboxd watchlist—but I’m embarrassed with the amount of classics I’ve yet to see (I’ve only just watched Pulp Fiction!).

What do you hope to see from Affinity Publisher in the future?

I’m very honoured to be a part of the growth of this app as it has so much potential. The next things I’d love is a books feature and an iPad app—that truly would be the next game changer!

To see more of Emily’s editorial work, check out her Instagram @emilygoaterdesign.

Senior copywriter

Originally from New York, Kelly is our creative team’s senior copywriter, responsible for crafting everything from email and web copy to video scripts and magazine spreads. She also writes thriller novels with her sister in her spare time, ideally with her beloved pup curled up at her feet.

Credits & Footnotes

All images created by Emily Goater.