In my job, I occasionally work with graphic designers and I’ve come to respect them a great deal for everything they bring to a job. They have taste, they have style. Some even have a little pizzazz.
I have none of those.
For example, I dress myself for work every day and, before I leave the house, like clockwork, I end up asking my wife if my shirt goes with my pants. Does this blue match that black? Do my loafers go with my dress pants?
It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve worn a particular color combination or asked the same stupid question, I’m compelled to ask again. I ask because I have no sense of color. I’d wear patterns with checkers if left to my own devices. Hence I try to keep things pretty simple.
Unfortunately though, it gets worse.
On those rare occasions, when my wife leaves the house before me, I’ve resorted to pestering my two sons with the same stupid questions. Yes, my sons: the one thinks that the outfit that he worked-out in the gym the night before would be roper work attire and my youngest son, while he has his own flare and actually has some potential, likes to wear a blue shirt with bright yellow bananas splattered across the front and back. Yes, these are my wonderful sons, and they’re the two that I’m going to for corporate fashion advice? I really must be crazy mad! I need to get my head examined.
I share that story to explain that I have no natural style, but the designers I work with have a wonderful eye for these kinds of things. They turn a blasé design into something that sparkles. You give them some copy that amounts to a few scribbles on a page and you get back a Mona Lisa.
Oh I have some good hunches. I can look at an picture and know that it would be pleasing to the eye. I can even frame a good shot when I’m shooting with a camera, but after that, all bets are off. Great designers with a flurry of a few mouse clicks turn the so-so into the sensational.
I’ve come to respect their work. I’m convinced that in another life I was not a professional baseball player or the President of the United States. (And let me just say, I wouldn’t mind storming into every room and everyone standing up and honoring my presence by singing “Hail to the President.”) No, in another life, I was a graphic designer.
Peaking behind the curtain
My designer friends have taken it easy on me lately. They’ve started to let me into their little club, explaining some of the reasoning behind the things they do, how they touch up pictures and images, and even how they use different fonts to convey different emotions and messages. (I suspect they’re trying to teach me something so I don’t make the same crazy requests each time I need their help, but I’ll take the learning nonetheless.)
To keep corporate standards, we tend to use pretty standard fonts. No wit or whimsy here, but we’ve gotten into discussions lately on how the font you use tells something about the person behind the content.
For example, if you’re prone to using Times New Roman: you’re solid, even a bit staid. You take the trash out the appointed night and make sure to bring the trash can back inside in a timely manner. You’re probably not the neighbor who’s going to run naked like a jaybird through the street after one too many beers, but you’re also probably the guy who gets his lunch pilfered each day from the lunchroom refrigerator.
Times New Roman, Arial, Georgia, Helvetica, you could say the same about all of them. Get the gist of the game? Try this one: Lucida calligraphy. A very elegant font, but a little archaic, from a time well in the past. My wife, of course, loves the font. It reminds her of weddings, puppies, and the Hallmark Channel. Me? I see Lucida Calligraphy and am quickly reminded that the NFL Preseason has kicked off and I can soon run to my man-cave to watch football, instead of whatever schmaltz Hallmark is pushing that week.
American Typewriter, Chalkboard, Bell MT, there’s a font for everyday of the year. I’m not even getting into serif or sans serif, the small features on the end of a font.
I like to think of myself as fun and hip. I like to think I would make a fun and hip font. Believe it or not, there’s actually a Hip Hop Font or even Skater Dude Font. Despite my inner thoughts and my own evaluation though, my designer friend’s have definitely corrected me, pulling me back to Arial or Garamond. I guess it goes to show I may think of myself as looking like George Clooney, but there’s only one George Clooney.
In any event, thanks to my designer mentors, I have picked up one bit of advice: stay away from Comic Sans!