by Sue Dawson
AN INTERESTING THING has been happening at the gallery. Every other week or so, someone comes in and looks around, ending up at my desk with a quizzical look on his/her face. “Is this all New York, or just some of it?” or “Where are the New York photos?” I didn’t get it at first. But it kept happening. Obviously something was triggering the confusion. Finally, someone said “The sign said ‘New York,’ so I’m confused.” We went out and looked at the sign – “Oh my gosh! I thought sure it said New York! I must be losing my mind!”
So, for the next couple of shows, I used all caps. That’ll fix it.
Spread out onto one line?
Interestingly, as I’ve talked with these customers, it turned out they were all highly-educated, and most of them subscribed to New Yorker magazine, which uses all caps for the logo. Oh, and there’s New York magazine – also all caps.
I decided to try a different cut of Futura (the font I use for our business), but in bold (below). One more shot at using the words I want to. Alas, it’s still confusing folks. And yeah, I know it looks pretty much the same as the other ones.
When I was a designer at the Boston Globe, it was fascinating to witness the variations in perception, in people’s response to headlines and design. We were lucky to have a large, diverse staff. Whether it was a page on my drafting table or (later) on my mac, I loved to hear the reactions of passersby. I’d often be surprised at how differences – gender, age, race, sexuality, education, marital status, parents, non-parents, religion, political party, country/state of origin – influenced each opinion. It made for some lively discussions, and hopefully better design.
I’ve held on long enough. I’m not sure I’ve ever been this stubborn about wordage on something I’ve designed! But it’s time. I guess I’ve gotta come up with a new way to say that we’re showing all new work. New images? New photos? All new? I want it to feel sophisticated but simple. “Photos” don’t feel like art. But “photographs” is so formal, so long. Designers obsess over minutiae like this. I’ve had conversations with other font geeks over ampersands, and capital T’s. This is fun for me. At least it will be again, when I figure out what to say.
Suggestions much appreciated…