The Internet & Inspiration
It's easy to be inundated by graphic design and typographic inspiration while browsing the web these days. Sites built to showcase work are appearing everywhere. Of course, there's Behance and Dribbble; these sites display the work of professional designers and artists. Personal and professional design blogs often also feature an endless stream of beautiful design. Even Pinterest has a surprisingly lovely collection of design gems.
At a certain point, while scrolling through the endless sea of inspiration that is the internet's design community, I realize that I'm taking great design for granted. Because there are so many well-executed projects that just keep appearing on my screen (thanks to that nifty little continuous scroll feature), I scroll faster; trying to take them all in. Then comes a moment when I realize I just spent 2.5 seconds "appreciating" a poster on which some amazing designer spent 40 hours of his or her life... After that moment, I usually swiftly exit my browser window feeling too ashamed to look at any more pieces.
This is why it's always a much more pleasurable experience to discover a great piece of design in real life! You know, something tangible and tactile! Something printed on an actual piece of paper! It seems that these real-world objects can be appreciated more fully than a piece represented by pixels floating in a digital ocean of other pieces represented by pixels.
This past Sunday, I made such a discovery in a somewhat unlikely place; the Sunday paper. Or, The Washington Post's Parade Magazine to be exact. Also somewhat unlikely was the subject of this beautiful piece of design: Ducky Dynasty ...the show about the family that made their millions by selling duck calls. Normally, I would have flipped past this article without a second thought, but the typography and design treatment used in its presentation made me want to linger over it.
All too often, the power of great graphic design is undervalued. Design is written off as an unnecessary luxury that can't be afforded. But, my experience with this article is a perfect example of just how well good design can pay off. Good design persuaded me to read an article that I would not normally have read. Reading this article is exactly what the publishers of Parade Magazine, the folks at Duck Dynasty, and the writer of the article wanted me to do. They wanted me to read the article because then I might buy a subscription to Parade Magazine, watch Duck Dynasty, or buy some Duck Dynasty products at the local Wal-Mart. Good design drew me in and made me actually doing these things a possibility. Therefore, in this instance especially, good design paid off!
I noticed the design's excellent typography first of all. The chunky typeface used for the title looks very much like fraktur, or blackletter, and is simply beautiful! Its unique and bold appearance is very eye-catching and, therefore, draws the reader in. I also enjoy the correlation between blackletter's folk art origins and the folksy, down-to-earth manner in which the family behind Duck Dynasty is presented on the show. ...ok, I admit it, I've seen an episode or two...
The fluid forms of the duck and leaf ornamentation surrounding the title balance out the angular and somewhat harsh lines of the title's blackletter-like typeface nicely. The proportion of white space to type and ornamentation also works quite well.
I'm so glad I found this lovely and unexpected example of design while perusing through the Sunday paper. It felt great to be able to feel the paper's texture, turn the pages, and see the sheen of the printed ink on the page. Perhaps, from now on, I'll make finding real-world examples of good design more of a priority.
Have you spotted any excellent specimens of design in the real world lately?