Good Design in a Subjective World
August 7, 2017

Ever hear a comment like this in an art gallery or museum? “Look at that! I could have done that!”

If you’re an art lover, you probably cringed, or did a silent eye roll.

“But you didn’t,” would be one reply.

Jackson Pollock is an artist whose work is often questioned like this. Image property of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

But the truth is, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Different experiences lead to different perceptions and emotions about the subject matter. “It’s all subjective,” would be another answer.

So how do you judge “good art” from bad? Or in our case here at Silver Oaks, good design? Those of us who are not schooled in the rules of design, can only judge based on gut reaction. But there’s more to it than that, as I found out from our team of experienced Silver Oaks designers.

How do you create a successful design when it is judged in a subjective world? What makes art – good?

Here are a few bulletproof design tips to help us answer that question. Check them out below!

Knowledge on your subject is almost as important as your artistic abilities

  • Know the “who’s” – Who is the company you’re creating a design for? What are their values. Their past designs/branding, what did they look like? What is the personality of the company? Who is the current audience? Who is the prospective audience?
  • Know the “why” – Why are you creating this design? What is the end goal: to bring in new customers, enhance branding, to sell products or services?
  • Know the “how” – How will this design be delivered to its audience (which medium[s] will be used)? How long will this design circulate?

Purpose, Purpose, Purpose

  • Rarely in design is something added just because it looks cool. Each design element should be well-thought out and have a reason for being included. Color, font, position, location – all should be taken into consideration.

The Three “F’s” – flow, focus, flexibility

  • Everything must flow. There should always be some sort of connection between every piece of the design.
  • Should there be a central focal point within the design? Understanding the focus of the design and sticking to it is important.
  • Be flexible. Design isn’t always a 1-2-3-step process. Sometimes it’s messy. Other times there are requests from clients that the designer disagrees with. And sometimes the brilliant concept in your head isn’t quite what you thought it would be in real life. Know when to adjust your approach by being flexible.

Tiny details are the loudest

  • “Sometimes you can’t see the road because of the bugs on the windshield. If a design is full of little errors or problems, it doesn’t matter how great the concept is — all people will see is all the little things that are wrong with it,” says Scott Kelty. “You have to look at all the details as well as the whole design, and always pay attention to the details”. Translation: You can have the most beautiful design, but if there is something missing or shouldn’t belong, that will completely strip away the overall success of the piece. Look at each individual element of the design. Always pay attention to the details.

It’s important to know the rules, but also know when to break them.

  • Design rules (like the ones mentioned above!)  are there for a reason, but it’s o.k. to be a little “rebellious” sometimes. Just remember, when you do bend them, be purposeful and think it though. 

The moral of the story? It takes a lot of knowledge, experience and courage to be successful in a subjective world. Thankfully we have three talented designers who are always up for the challenge.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.