Thursday, September 8, 2011

Futzing with Graphics

I've wanted to do this for a while and today it seemed like just the pointless activity to keep me from crawling back into bed and snuggling with my pillow.

You can't tell on this page, but the image is transparent, just like the original SMARTIES wrapper.

On the left is Twitter avatar attempt #1, which is unreadable when it's 75ish pixels square. On the right is the compromise I finally went with, which doesn't need to be transparent.

Over the weekend, I was proofing and editing something for free, which means I get to be cranky and publicly critical about it on Twitter, otherwise what's in it for me? The satisfaction of being privately correct isn't enough. The text I was working with had several list clauses, e.g., "a, b and c," that were missing the comma between the next-to-last list item and "and." Controversy about this comma, the Oxford comma or serial comma, flared on Twitter last spring/early summer when Oxford University declared that they would no longer be endorsing it. Persnickety language people on both sides of the issue came out of the woodwork to argue about it, which later turned out to only apply to internal press releases (or something like that).

I came late to the party but I came with an icon based on a hashtag typo in one of @electricsoup's tweets. The Oxford Comma Nerds Unit sounds like an elite force of the best writers, editors, and proofreaders armed with red pencils and wearing berets (like the Green Berets). @electricsoup created @oxfordcommanerd with my blessing & icon (she's much more likely than I am to keep up with it and still have fun).

As you've likely surmised, I'm an amateur self-taught graphic designer and the OCNU logo is the last of several icons, just like the SMRTIES. When I looked at colleges, I did consider going in to graphic design (though not at Carnegie Mellon, where I got my BA). Some elements of graphic design do come into technical writing, my (former?) profession, document design, and rhetoric, the subject of my BA, but really, I'm guided mostly by trial and error, intuition, and a desire for specific results. The OCNU icon still looks amateurish to me, but I haven't been able to put my finger on why. The SMRTIES wrapper was easy - the design was already there, I just needed to take a letter out and clean the image up (and add the dots and resize it and etc.). I'm sure I'll look back on these in a month or two and shudder, which will be a good thing since that will mean I've learned & grown.


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