Sunday, June 11, 2006

Graphic details

I'm a graphic designer by trade. I've worked everywhere from web development firms to publishing powerhouses. I've been in this field for a while, but there is something I can't wrap my mind around.

Why do frum people and organizations accept horrible design as nice or even passable, when any other company or organization would see it for what it really is, namely garbage?

Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood is making their annual appeal for the kollel (the appeal targets thousands of the very same people who they are raising money for, but that's another discussion). I don't know who makes the decisions there about who to use for design, but the flyer that was plastered around the town was so badly done, I felt like I was physically slapped in the face every time I saw it. Like most frum design jobs, every single photoshop layer effect was used on practically every selection, drop shadows galore, typography that should get you arrested, clashing colors, and the large BMG logo on the bottom had perhaps the worst selection in the history of mankind, plus a drop shadow of course. (Pssst, a blast from the magic wand is not always the best way to make a selection!)

The non-frum world would never accept this fly-by-night design done by people who just discovered Photoshop and filters, yet in the frum world this is not only accepted, but considered nice! Overdone is nice to frum people. I can't figure out why.

People have no idea where to draw the line (pun intended).

The right equipment and a complete knowledge of the programs do not necessarily make a nice product. There is talent and skill involved as well as an eye for design. I mean, learn the color wheel for heaven's sake before you try to do a real design job. I see people all the time who've taken graphic design courses (the 3-6 month type of course). Most of the time the work they do is terrible. Sure, they know the programs well, they know the tools, but they lack an eye for it, they lack talent.

I get asked all the time to do jobs for frum companies and organizations. It's very hard. The client has no idea what nice design is, they just need everything to be as flashy as possible even if the design makes no sense at all.

True story: I was asked to do an album cover for a frum cd. I designed something which I felt was real classy; minimalistic and subtle. They nixed it because, in their words "it won't jump off the shelves". And they're right. The frum costumer in general is looking for the same thing the frum client is - overdone garbage.

Why are frum people different in this way? I don't get it.