save transparency.

{watch out. semi-nerdy post alert}

Every now and then, if i’m paying attention, i find little life lessons in graphic design. I love connecting concepts and weaving in meaning where there would seem to be a void. Some of them are more obvious and cliche – such as “less is more”, “keep it simple”, the usual design mantras. But some spark a bit more thought.

One of my favorites is “all elements must reinforce the message”. Ya can’t just pick a typeface or color or pattern or style or grid or shape or format that pleases your eye… you have to do research first, and come up with a justification for why each thing has been selected. Do you see where this is going yet? When an element does not reinforce the message, things start to fall apart. The piece is less believable, the design loses impact. Then what? The product doesn’t sell, or the viewer isn’t moved, and everything is a waste. What if we thought of our lives like this? Sure, some of our ‘elements’ may be perfectly in line, but what if the other elements don’t match up with what we’re preaching? What if we become hypocrites by not synchronizing our beliefs with our actions? This however, is not even the design life lesson i was meaning to talk about.

Every time i am in photoshop and need to export an edited file from a .jpg to a .tif, there is this little box that i need to check. I’ve seen it a million times. It has never made me think twice before today. “Save Transparency”. If i forget to check it, the file is pointless. The whole point of having the .tif (or the .png) is that the image is cut from its flat, white background. The image won’t look real or be able to seamlessly integrate with the design unless it is removed from its horrible flat background.

Today, as i continually kept that box checked, i was reminded of myself and my own lack of transparency. I was reminded of how my natural tendency is to close up, to not share my feelings, to ignore everything and will myself to “be fine”, so that i will be fine. My entire life, i have never felt comfortable with revealing my feelings, because (for some reason) i want to only be strong, stoic, stable, unshakable. Basically, when it comes down to it, i have always – always – done this in order to protect myself. Sometimes, let’s be real, it’s totally worked. But it’s not foolproof, and it isn’t always healthy.

We are all so different… but i feel that most people tend towards either extremity: there are some people who need to hardcore work on being less transparent, and better listeners. But then there are people like me to need to be the opposite. It is a daily, hourly battle for me to not shove my thoughts and emotions under the rug.

I am so pleased that this little checkbox can now serve as a reminder to me… because lord knows i need it. Save transparency.

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