On Graphic Design.

I don’t read magazines all that often but when I do it’s usually in bed and I’m usually on my back. I noticed something the other night as I was reading an article in Wired magazine about India’s skeleton trade. I noticed that unless you’re in the middle of the magazine, it’s hard to read using one hand. And I usually fold my magazine in on itself in order to read it using one hand. In the front of the magazine, the left hand side of the spread gets cut off when the magazine is folded over.

I am forced to turn the magazine at weird angles in order to read the type at the gutter.

It’s a small design pet peeve of mine.

When you get to the back of the magazine, the same thing happens in reverse order. It’s easy to read the left hand side of the page whenever the magazine is folded back on itself. But whenever you get to the right hand side of the spread, you’re forced to either open the magazine entirely or do the same weird motion.

Think of how many minutes I could save every day if the magazine designer took this phenomenon into consideration. Think of how much more pleasurable my reading experience would be if the gutter was thought about depending on where you are in the magazine. Perhaps the designer could extend artwork to include the gutter. Perhaps they could vary the width of the column closest to the gutter depending on where you are in the magazine. White space never hurt anyone. As my design professor used to say, “It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity.”

And then sometimes decisions made by a graphic designer or marketing team just confuse me. Remember this logo?

I originally saw it on its side. Like this:

Some folks thought it was just me, while others agreed. The point is, enough people saw a penis to warrant a second look and maybe a third, fourth and fifth.

People should have to pay for good graphic design but more often than not it’s an afterthought. If more people thought about graphic design over at Baxter Healthcare Corp., three babies might still be alive today and Dennis Quaid might not be suing them.

Obviously, the Heparin bottle design (or lack thereof) is a bigger deal than a logo that may or may not look like a penis even if said logo includes the tagline “Sharing God’s Gifts.” And it’s a much bigger deal compared to whether or not I have to move my magazine around in order to read it. But my point is (and always has been) that graphic design is a lot more important than people choose to admit.

Am I right? Or am I right.


  1. AMEN! I’m a magazine junkie and this is a huge pet peeve of mine.


  2. I ride the NYC subway most days and I have found a decent work around. I can’t speak to how it’ll work when you’re lying down since I try to keep that from happening on the train. I fold back both sides of the mag so that you’re getting sort of an 8 out of them and then you read basically around the double 8. Pretty much you get one column per view. Does that make any sense? It works well enough that I don’t have to let go of the bar and fall on my ass.

    Also, totally looks like God’s “gifts” and I think that’s hilarious!


  3. Kizz, I need a picture of your maneuver. I have a one track mind these days: it’s all poopie diapers and baby vomit.


  4. That one company’s logo is a penis. Period.


  5. Kayne agrees completely.


  6. Oh my, Jeffery. Oh my.


  7. CHRISTIAN PENIS! I know this sounds crazy, but I was just complaining about the gutter business last night. To the cat, mind you, but if he could talk he would confirm it!


  8. I thought God was giving me the finger


  9. I’m thinking the designer KNEW what they were doing … clam plate orgy and all that…



  10. I’m having slight Mohs surgery complications and my camera is out of batteries. I’ll work on that picture and get back to you, though. Hopefully tomorrow. I knew my description wasn’t doing it justice.


  11. I’m with Kevin – I think the penis thing was completely intentional. I’m Catholic. Everything is about the penis in this religion…

    About the graphic design being more important than people realize, I’m hoping society is slowly starting to realize this. I’m more of an advocate regarding environmental aesthetics but only because this is what I know and what I can talk about somewhat intelligently. People who are about to think graphically/aesthetically well seem to be few and far between – or perhaps more accurately, people who think graphically/aesthetically AND are able to get their ideas actually listened to and implemented are few and far between…


  12. You’re right. About the gutter thing (I had no idea it was called a gutter – you learn something new every day), which irritates the crap out of me every time I read a magazine, often to the point of skipping articles. I read magazines for relaxation, not to work.

    Also? You’re right aboutthe penis. And thanks for that – I’m going to be giggling about that all day.


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