Graphic Design Student Publishes Political Commentary

Posted: September 27, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jennifer Mitchell

Leslie O'Shaughnessy
Leslie O’Shaughnessy
Photo by Evan Cantwell

The project started as an Art and Visual Technology (AVT) class assignment that asked students to design a book based on an idea of their choosing. After several months of research, senior Leslie O’Shaughnessy made the decision last May to publish her first book, Plant Bush Back in Texas. The finished work is a compilation of international political cartoons, along with news articles, quotes, and statistics detailing the issues facing the Bush administration.

Although she managed to publish her book in only three months, O’Shaughnessy, who is majoring in graphic design, says there were hurdles she needed to overcome. “The biggest unknown part of the process was obtaining permissions,” she says. “I was turned down on about five news articles and on the original cover image. I ended up locating other articles that I was able to obtain permission for, and setting up and shooting my own cover image.”

O’Shaughnessy’s AVT professor, Maureen Lauran, sponsored the project and put her in touch with a friend in the publishing business to give her some direction. For writing, editing, and style points, O’Shaughnessy frequently consulted the Chicago Manual of Style. Numerous friends and family members helped out when it came time for proofreading.

After getting permission and paying a fee, O’Shaughnessy obtained all of the cartoons for the book from the web site. “I got a bulk rate since I used more than 40 cartoons,” she explains. Other necessary steps included establishing a budget and marketing plan, doing a copyright search for the title, and applying for an International Standard Book Number and barcode. O’Shaughnessy then registered the copyright for her book with the Library of Congress.

She hopes to continue self-publishing, although not necessarily political books, or even her own. “I find that people are more willing to break away from the big publishing houses,” she says. “It really opens a new door, and has become easier than ever to do.” She is interested in doing children’s books—she has a daughter in preschool—and anything on environmental issues. She would also love to publish a book of photography.

Although O’Shaughnessy has a background in writing, which spurred her decision to publish, she never considered herself politically active until the current presidential campaign. “This is legitimate research, presented to educate and enlighten people,” she says of the book.

O’Shaughnessy’s book is on sale at the university bookstore and is available online through

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