Thursday, April 12, 2012

Digital Design Train Wrecks

Commercial Art is what they used to call Graphic Design before computers became the primary tool of professionals engaged in the composition of marketing materials from concept through production. The good news is that design can be accomplished faster and with less training. The bad news is that so-called designers are less likely to be schooled in the subtleties of composition and the orchestration of layout, color, space, type etc. Computers and software allow designers to be “creative” beyond the boundaries of good sensible design. Here are a few examples of what can happen:

Car Dealer Ad – a designer in an effort to accommodate all the special interests the business shows a giant truck. Right behind the vehicle is dealer sign. The corner of the ad is dedicated to a photo of the top 10 sales people. This jumble is compounded by star bursts, prices and unreadable blocks of six point type carrying legal copy about financing and restrictions.

Restaurant Flyer – A plate of spaghetti with meatballs dominates a page with a special meal offer set in bold type. A photo of the restaurant storefront is cropped into the flyer to show the street address. The piece is designed like a collage of cut paper images several other offers competing for attention.

Builder’s Brag Piece – A residential contractor wants to let people know he can build decks, install windows and fix or repair roofing. The designer uses photos available to show this in a grid layout with captions. Unfortunately, the quality of the original photos is uneven - some are taken with a camera phone, others taken on a rainy day and the hero roof shot is an aerial taken by a professional. The result is peculiar with no clear message.

If you are an artist or an art director, you know what I mean. If you are a car dealer, a restaurant owner or a builder you might not. The world needs artists and marketing people to help improve the quality of communications. Maybe it makes sense to stick to what you do best and get help with the art direction, copy and creative strategy. I’m just saying…

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