designing ebooks and other fun things


Ask a designer: do you prefer certain colors and elements?


This post is part of the Ask a Designer series. You ask me questions, I answer them to the best of my ability. The questions can be about design process, branding, software, technical things – or even completely unrelated. Want to play? Leave me a comment here, or use the contact form.



Are there certain themes/elements/colors/etc you find yourself drawn to repeatedly?

by SilverMagpies


Yes and no.
This is not easy to explain, but I think that my tastes as a designer — when I am wearing the expert hat, if you will — are quite different than my personal tastes. Of course, personal taste implies that I am choosing for me personally — and that is probably why it varies greatly when choosing something for others.

It’s no longer a matter of a personal preference — it’s something that must work well for the client, not for me.

To use a non-design related example, I dislike the color pink. I do not own anything pink (if you don’t count a little jar of lip gloss — but that only looks pink in the jar).
However, if choosing a gift for a friend that I know adores the color, and that looks absolutely heavenly when wearing pink, clearly I would be picking up the pink t-shirt and not even considering the turquoise one that I would have gone for.
(yes, turquoise is my personal favorite color. Sometimes clients’ tastes overlap with mine, too.)
It’s exactly the same way with projects. Every one of them has colors, shapes, styles and themes that work well — and those that don’t.

It has to suit the overall vibe; the language, the style, the personality of a brand.

Of course, as any designer, I have a certain look and feel that is most natural for me. I am drawn to bright colors and plenty of white space; strong images, larger than life headings and quotes, subtle body text.

A balance of a sort between minimal and in-your-face. It’s not what I always do, but it influences my choices in a layout where this style works.
For example, if a page calls for images of fruit to illustrate some text, I will pick one single photo of a juicy red shiny strawberry over images of fruit bowls or baskets. I will also make it take up half the page if possible — rather than filling the page with several smaller fruit pictures. The effect is much more striking.
(Look at the two examples below for a quick demonstration.)

A layout that can work, depending on the project, but not striking enough for my tastes.

This is a much more striking layout, even though it's quite simple. And this is the sort style that comes most naturally to me.

This isn’t right for every project. Some call for a different approach. A style that reminds of ancient books and journals. Or something that is subtle and all natural. More complex illustrations instead of photos… and so on.

The possibilities are endless, and I enjoy the chance to work with the different styles and approaches.

Sometimes it’s a challenge. This wouldn’t be fun without the occasional challenges, the possibility to create something that is unlike anything I have created before.

An open mind that can appreciate any and every style out there is a prerequisite for my job.

Even if I wouldn’t choose certain styles for myself, I can still see their beauty, and be excited about bringing that style to life.
The same way that, being mostly a jeans-and-t-shirts person myself, even though it’s very unlikely I would wear a glamorous long dress, I can still be stopped in my tracks when seeing a particularly gorgeous one in a store window, or be happy to advise a friend choosing one that suits her best.

1 Comment on this Post.

  1. SilverMagpies

    I’m really enjoying thus series! It’s such an insight into what seems to me to be a magical process. I’m very glad to hear that turquoise is your personal favorite too. :-)

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