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a Web site on which an individual or group of users produces an ongoing narrative : Most of his work colleagues were unaware of his blog until recently.

verb (blogged, blogging) [ intrans. ]
add new material to or regularly update a blog.

blogger noun

ORIGIN a shortening of WEBLOG.
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14 November 2012

Today's topic: Harmony

Back in the day, clip art (sometimes called stock art) included a range of image types, from reproductions of pen and ink illustrations to camera ready photos, from cartoons to logos and just about anything in between. Having the appearance of rather pristine black and white booklets or catalogs which were printed on glossy bright white stock, clip art usually presented you with an image in a range of sizes, small to large, with perhaps two or three steps between those extremes.

Clip art.

For the composition of an ad or similar print project, the "art" was actually clipped (with scissors) from its page and then fixed into place, often with hot wax which (unlike glue) permitted repositioning.

While today's digital equivalent to clip art (often called click art) permits you to re-size it in nearly imperceptible increments, the original article wasn't so user friendly. Clip art could be re-sized to exacting dimensions with a stat camera, but not as quickly as its digital counterpart and certainly not as inexpensively. Stat cameras like to eat, must be fed, and I might add, changed. A messy business.

The same is true of some web and print publications which is to say they are visually messy. Many lack creativity and display an abundance of cookie-cutter design. You might argue that the pair of assertions put forth in the previous sentence are but one observation expressed in different ways, that they make the same if not similar impressions, fair enough, no argument here, but while related they are not opposite sides of the same coin. An absence of cookie-cutter design does not mark the presence of creativity. Poor design is poor design just as a bad batch of cookies is a bad batch of cookies, made with or without a cookie-cutter.

There's more to creativity than using one's imagination or original ideas. The resulting splatter from an open gallon can of paint that's been thrown at a wall could be called a creative expression, especially since it will most likely be unique in form and therefore original, but it could well have been an accident if the "throwing" was unintentional, say because the person carrying the open can tripped on the corner of a drop cloth, lost their balance and control of the can as they fell towards the wall.

It's all about one's intention. If I intended to create a unique work of art by throwing paint at a wall, here's hoping I get it right the first time, otherwise I'll need more paint and another wall. But if my goal was to actually paint the wall then I'd better have numerous cans of paint... or maybe just one can will do provided I have a paint tray, a roller and I watch my step around the edges of drop cloths.

When we think of creativity, words like inventiveness, imagination, innovation, originality, individuality, artistry, inspiration, vision, enterprise, initiative and resourcefulness come to mind. Creativity isn't an unbound care-free artistic rampage, not usually. Creativity works within certain boundaries, using various elements and ingredients, principles or precepts and a healthy measure of thought, instinct and sometimes luck. Okay, you found me out. I can't completely define what it is, but I know it when I see it. A lack of creativity is as conspicuous as an abundance of it.

Creative expression sparked my interest in commercial design. Combining white space with typography, illustrations, drawings, even using clip art in self-contained stand-alone works was exciting stuff. It still is. Finding the right visual balance can be both challenging and rewarding. Adding additional text to the mix redoubles the challenge. And so it goes until you bring all of the elements into harmony.

In music, harmony and balance are lost when the melody "voice" of a song is overshadowed by others. Listening to such a performance becomes confusing or disturbing, even when all voices are singing in unison. Experiencing the printed page is much like listening to music for we perceive each with a separate or a singular sense. You can listen to a live concert, a music video or a CD with your eyes closed just as well as you can read a newspaper wearing earplugs, but the reverse isn't true, the effect is not the same. Earplugs removed, you have certain expectations, just as with your eyes open there are similar expectations.

We don't expect fine print at the bottom of a page to serve as a headline anymore than we can make sense of why the caption under a photo is larger than the photo itself. Harmony is restored when a sense of proportion and balance come into play in such a way that all of the elements work together in a pleasing manner.

To be continued...


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