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28 Thematic Imagery

Whether you realize it or not, every logo, illustration, or image you create emits conveyances: intangible themes like strength, creativity, order, precision, antiquity, and grace.

It’s important to avoid letting these thematic conveyances happen willy nilly. Take control: Identify the themes you want your logo, layout, or illustration to deliver to its target audience and then get down to business creating a piece that not only looks good, but also accurately conveys the abstract inferences you’re aiming for.

In the graphic arts, themes could be thought of as descriptors you would like to see associated with the company, person, product, or message your creation is connected with. Six such descriptors are listed in this column’s first paragraph. Here are some more: elegance, brawn, gentleness, hi-tech, depression-era, futurism, fragility, exuberance, speediness, solidity, efficiency, casualness, urbanity, childishness, orderliness, retro-kitsch, and back-to-nature.

Half the battle, when it comes to identifying and delivering meaningful thematic conveyances, lies simply in acknowledging that these abstract entities exist and that they are crucial components of any effective work of design or art. Once this has been taken care of, it then becomes a matter of accepting your responsibility as a designer and finding ways of giving form to these non-tangible conveyances through well chosen typefaces, colors, and imagery—as well as through canny choices involving the compositional and stylistic appearance of your creation.

Write down relevant themes the next time you begin a design project. Come up with lists of on-target adjectives and use these lists to help judge the visual and stylistic choices you make while working. Not only will this streamline decision-making processes as you explore options, it will also help you come up with a legitimate rationale for the content and the appearance of your logo, layout, or illustration—a rationale that your client might enjoy hearing.

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