Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Even 'professional' designers can produce ugliness

I've often preached about the importance of employing professional designers for important book projects. Sadly, professional training and years of experience do not guarantee the ability to produce beauty. Some pros have tools but not taste.
  • It's important to examine work samples, and not merely accept boasts or even recommendations.
  • It's also important to become a knowledgeable amateur design critic so you can make proper judgements.
  • Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder, but some ugliness is so ugly it should be obvious to every viewer.
  • On the other hand, some ugliness will not be readily apparent unless you know what to look for.
Some people who have the title of designer, architect, art professor or art director turn out major failures — like the Pontiac Aztek, above. A poll published by England’s Daily Telegraph put the Aztek at the top of the list of the ugliest cars of all time.

New Jersey’s Pulaski Skyway was called “the ugliest man-made structure in the world” — by my father.

The book below was named one of the ten best books of 2011 by the New York Times, and one of the best books of the year by at least seven other book review media. It was published by Random House and designed by Casey Hampton.

Sadly, even professionals working for big publishing houses sometimes neglect to kern and condense. I fixed the first line of the title. I’ll let Random’s 'pros' fix the second line—if they care.

(This posting is derived from my upcoming No More Ugly Books!)

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