Sep 14, 2013

Never Use White Type on a Black Background

and 50 other Ridiculous Design Rules
edited by Anneloes van Gaalen

This has been my "bathroom book" for a while now. It's one that's easy to dip into, read a few pages, come back to the next day. It's a compilation of design rules- both those unspoken and those rigorously taught in schools (at least to my experience) alongside numerous quotes by various photographers, architects, typographers, fashion designers and other artists either agreeing with, expostulating on or simply further exploring said rules. There's often a source as well: who first made up the rule, or a famous quote it was derived from. Sometimes the rule has evolved a long way from its origins! I got a kick out of some of these; one of my favorite Golden Age illustrators, Norman Rockwell, gets a serious nod here. Nearly all the rules I have either heard in art school (although some phrased differently) or just known intrinsically, but there were a few I had never encountered before (if you don't know what to do- just make it big and red took me by surprise). The ones related directly to fashion weren't as applicable to what I do, but felt familiar regardless. And if you read between the lines you get a sense of the paradoxical relationship that often exists between designers, their clients or directors, the intended audience and so forth. It's all about the rules of good design, how to apply them and know when to bend or break them. (And the title rule? I happen to agree with that one, especially when applied to web pages! White text on black ground makes my eyes swim and I get a headache. I usually never revisit a website that has a black ground.)

My boyfriend brought this book back from a visit to Holland. I've been really enjoying it. Some parts make me me think, others make me laugh, others I grin in recognition and agreement. And most of all, it makes me feel inspired to create again.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 145 pages, 2009

more opinions:
Greeting Card Designer
Battlefield Man


bermudaonion said...

I agree with the title rule too!

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Oh fun! I love reading about the rules of different things are that I'd never try -- like, I just discovered to my total shock that interior decorators HATE CEILING FANS. This is truly beyond my ability to comprehend. I love ceiling fans and feel joyful every time I walk into a room that has one.

Jeane said...

Bermudaonion- So I'm not the only one!

Jenny- They hate ceiling fans? That's so strange. I wonder why.