Comment

Design Fundamentals

The tricky thing about design is that it naturally contains a human, emotional component. You might say it is similar to art therapy, in the way that someone draws something dark and angular when they feel angry or confused. When we unknowingly allow our emotions to influence our design it can convey information that we may not intend to send. Here are a couple of examples:

• choosing your favorite color for an earnings report instead of a color appropriate to the subject matter.

• using a typeface because you think it looks cool. 

Are your designs unintentionally influenced by your emotions or are they carefully crafted to communicate clearly to the intended person?

Understanding design fundamentals is a must if you intent to communicate a specific message successfully—and to steer clear of your own unintentional design decisions. Design fundamentals are principles and theories that all professional designers (interior designers, architects, etc.) use when designing for their clients. These fundamentals determine if a design works or not. Back to our examples: It is reasonable and logical to choose green to convey positive growth for the earnings report, instead of our favorite color red; And for a teenage girl choosing a typeface for her science project, perhaps Helvetica is a more appropriate typeface than Curlz. Is the emotional component of the design derived from you or the person you intend to communicate to.

As you design, be conscious of design principles that will help best communicate your hard wrought information. 

At DesignAide I share anecdotes cross-referenced with design principles and theory. I hope you find these anecdotes helpful as you, a deliberate communicator, design for your small business, work presentation, or school project.

Comment

Comment

Principle of Proximity

Last week I mentioned that I would share another design element that I found while recently on a trip to my hometown. It is a sign displaying some good old fashioned school pep and pride. Go Panthers, with the school’s monogram “P” in close proximity to the capital letters GO. The sign reads as GOP Panthers, which is far from the truth, given that the school is located in the heart of democrat country. Humor aside, the principle of proximity is noted as follows (according to the Universal Principles of Design book by Lidwell, Holden, & Butler) "Elements that are close together are perceived to be more related than elements that are farther apart."  What is the fix for this sign to communicate more effectively?  1. The G and O can be moved closer together, or 2. The P can be resized to be noticeably smaller than the GO, allowing information hierarchy clarity. And the GO Panthers can be moved closer together allowing it to appear as more of a unit. Below, I’ve taken the liberty of editing the image to show the effectiveness of the two suggestions. 

GOP Panthers_revised double.jpg

 

 

Comment

Comment

Our desire to comprehend.

These vintage sign letters were on eye-popping display thanks to a light summer rain that made the pavement a rich, receding black. This vibrant contrast between the rich black and the colors/reflections of the letters was undeniably attractive. When I look at this photograph I find myself trying to make words out of the letters I see. For example, words like Notary, SCAD, Tap’D, ClaD. What’s the takeaway? When you are designing, think about the proximity of your design elements, or else you may convey the wrong meaning, like MAZE SOUTPOST. Next week I will share a sign that illustrates this in another manner.

Comment

Comment

Signage: day and night.

When designing a sign, the principle of contrast is important to note. Significant differences between sizes and dark/light colors matter when you want viewers to see your sign. In this instance, reflective material has been used to create a handsome way finding sign (center right of photo). But when the sun goes down and lights from passing cars and adjacent buildings glow, each letter reflects differently. This creates what is seen in the photo, unpredictable contrast between the letters and the background.  

B1EF6B30-D7F4-43C4-AC65-7949BD232439.JPG

Day shot of signage, center right. Other images photographed at night. 

Comment

Comment

Words pacing matters.

This store has been closed for some time. Forty miles south of Atlanta, I noticed this easily seen building while driving a busy parkway. I wondered, what is MAZE SOUTPOST? After some typographic scrutiny, I deduced it is Maze's Outpost. It astonishes me that a sign maker did not realize the lack of word spacing needed in this sign. Maybe it was a DIY sign made by the owner's friend or parent, still... no space between words? Didn't we all learn that miscommunication happens with misspellings? I wonder, was the unintentional, newly created word "MAZE'SOUTPOST" too much of a mystery for drivers to pull off of the busy road to discover this store? Could this be why the Maze's Outpost is no longer? 

IMG_0381.JPG

Comment

Comment

About color.

Scout and friends.

Scout and friends.

I get a great deal of satisfaction from serendipitous color unions, particularly when it happens in nature. The best color theorists and artists can bring color together beautifully, but nature does it best. My dog was innocently sniffing through some brush along the side of the road and came up with a muzzle of green, it made me laugh and I took this photograph. What I did not plan was the combination of this green leash associating itself with the burs that stuck to his face. The brown of his fur, the contrasting brightness of the green and the framing of the green ivy along the upper right corner of the photo. These design principles avail themselves everywhere, in planned ways and naturally.

Comment

Poster Design at SCAD

Comment

Poster Design at SCAD

Last week I taught poster design at my alma mater, Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta. There were two classes of high school students, ages 15-17. It was the first time I had the opportunity to teach graphic design, making up my own curriculum for the students to follow. I had a great week and I believe the students had fun too. Click through the gallery below.

Comment