Not Teaching Cynicism

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had another lovely week. It is hard to believe we are almost halfway through May. While I am looking forward to the summer, I’m not sure that I’m ready for so much of the year to be over. My list of things I want to do this year is long and it would be nice to have a pause button so I could make some more progress (and have time to nap!). Be that as it may, today I want to share something that is a bit different than my usual design inspiration (though there is some of that as well at the end), but something important and at the fore of my mind this term–not teaching cynicism.

So as many know, while I love graphic design and apply what I know to helping my library visually communicate whenever I have the chance, I wasn’t hired by my library as a graphic design librarian. I was hired, like my colleagues, as a liaison librarian who has responsibilities for teaching our required, freshmen, information literacy class (among many other duties). Because of this, I spend a lot of time thinking, creating, facilitating, helping, and reflecting on the teaching and learning of information literacy. This year, more than most, has been a struggle to model and teach skepticism versus cynicism. But it is more important than ever for my students and myself.

As I’ve been teaching now for almost nine years, I’ve of course changed a lot of how I teach as is natural. And two things that I focus on much more now than when I was so very new to teaching are: reflection and evaluation. Reflection comes easily for my students and, in contradiction to some colleagues who thought it would be otherwise, students are very–sometimes surprisingly–honest in their reflections. Their reflections on their learning, which I have them complete weekly, help them to review what they’ve learned and how they can apply it and help me figure out what needs review, refinement, and revision in our time together.

Reflection is too often overlooked, in our hurry-hurry world, but it helps in teaching & learning and graphic design. And it keeps me from falling into being cynical about the world. And cynicism helps neither teaching nor learning.

Another counter to cynicism is remaining skeptical and knowing how to evaluate claims, sources, and well, really anything. Evaluation of sources has been one of the most difficult concepts for my students over the years. It is a new way of thinking and interacting with information for them, but it is an empowering way of interacting with information. I challenge them to question and critique, but also to stay away from the pit of cynicism. This is hard because every day the news brings something that hits home for us: rising tuition, questions of employment, concerns about housing, whether their voice matters, and everything else that keeps a lot of us up at night or in the early hours of the morning wondering what happened to kindness and empathy and caring.

So we talk about how hard it is to stay positive and willing to engage with school and life. We read research on what we can do that has a positive impact on our lives as students and as engaged humans. And we support each other when it is difficult because I have to model skepticism for them if I expect them to live it, too. And that balance of skepticism and do something in the face of cynicism is a hard thing for any of us to do, but it’s important.

What does any of this have to do with graphic design? I don’t know about you, but trying to communicate from a place of cynicism doesn’t work for me. There is no joy there, no creativity, no ability to connect and communicate visually. So I walk back from that edge and continue creating and teaching because for me that is the only way through. By caring, I can create. And by creating, I can connect. And by connecting, I can overcome cynicism and remain skeptical, but engaged. I and my students can’t ignore the problems and challenges in the world, but we can come together and ensure we don’t add to the cynicism that does nothing to change it.

Whether at the reference desk, in the classroom, or in your designs, I ask you choose skepticism over cynicism. And I hope you find inspiration to connect and create because we all need you to.

Now, as promised, the design inspiration. New-ish month means new May Inspiration and May Desktop Wallpapers from Smashing Magazine. Hope they inspire some new work for you, too.

I’ll be back soon with some more news and notes. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Allons-y!

Library Graphic Design Inspiration in the New Year

Happy Friday, dear readers! We’ve made it to the end of the first workweek of the year. Hard to believe we’re almost a week into 2017 already. Time really does go by too quickly no matter what it seems like is happening or we’re doing. For this first post of the new year, I want to share a few things that I hope will get you excited about your library graphic design work in the new year, perhaps even think of some new goals you want to achieve.

As for me, I’m not much of a new year’s resolution kind of person. I have enough stress without piling on more pressure with a bunch of lofty resolutions. However, I am all about goals and setting goals allows me to plan what I want to do in the new year, both professionally and personally. On the professional, design-oriented side, I want to increase my skills in hand lettering–it’s gotten so big over the last few years. It will be a nice complement to my continuing practice of calligraphy and hopefully expand the scope and feel of what I design in the new year. I’m not sure yet what I’ll get a chance to design for my library, but I’m hoping I get lots of opportunities (or I just might have to make my own).

Speaking of getting inspiration for new designs, it’s a new month and you know what that means–awesome new desktop wallpapers from Smashing Magazine. I’m particularly enamored of the tea pot and tea bag one, so calming for the new year. Also, the wonderful illustrated wallpapers reminds me that another goal is to continue to improve my ability to use Illustrator (a librarian graphic designer can never stop learning).

An older post, but still wonderful, is this photo-heavy post of a pin-sized book of Life’s Lil Pleasures. Miniature books are wonderful and this one is quite miniature. Plus, it would be a great challenge for bookbinding, which I think is another area where librarian graphic designers can learn to stretch their creative wings and use to improve their design work. There is something incredibly satisfying about creating a book by hand. It is a nice change from all the work we do in front of a computer when we are designing flyers and brochures for the library.

And, finally, because sometimes you just need a peaceful scene to look at when all seems too overwhelming, I give you Pickles at the Green Dragon. You can’t help but smile looking at that photo. So peaceful.

I’ll be back soon with a post reflecting on last year’s design work and where I see this year going. Along with more tips and hints for creating some great library graphic design projects. Until then, I hope you are inspired to break out your pencils and start sketching something new.

I hope you have a lovely first weekend of the month and a wonderful year full of opportunities and time to create awesome things for your library and your life. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Design and NaNoWriMo

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are well and that November is treating you kindly! How did we get so far into November already? Time is really flying, especially if you are participating in NaNoWriMo. So what does NaNoWriMo have to do with design? I’m glad you asked.

For those who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. November is NaNoWriMo, which means thousands of writers all over the world are attempting (and succeeding) in writing a novel in 30 days. Yes, an entire novel–at least 50,000 words–in November. It’s audacious, crazy, exciting, and fun. Plus, lots of libraries get in the action by becoming Come Write In partners and hosting write-ins–meet-ups for writers–at their libraries. My library is a Come Write In partner for the second year and I’m hoping we have even more writers come this year. It’s hard to say no to free coffee and cookies in a quiet library space when you are on a writing deadline. If you’ve never taken part in NaNoWriMo, I really think you should and it isn’t too late to start this year.

But what does NaNoWriMo have to do with graphic design in libraries?

Well, I could tell you that writing a novel will help you with creating great copy for your next flyer, poster, or brochure–it probably couldn’t hurt your copy writing abilities. I could tell you that getting writers into your library for Come Write In events is a great outreach opportunity and they may even take a look at your current exhibits or other programming when they come out of their writing fog–they probably will. Or, I could tell you that there’s nothing like banging away at a keyboard during a word sprint to encourage you to stop making excuses and just get writing–it totally works.

But really, the best reason for doing NaNoWriMo in terms of library design is that it isn’t about library graphic design. You aren’t cropping photos, you aren’t matching color swatches, and you aren’t creating a grid for the next newsletter layout. You’re writing. Pure and simple, words on the screen or in your notebook. You are exercising another area of your brain, taking a break from your sketchbook to get into your word processing notebook. And that’s great!

This break from consciously working on graphic design–but still working on a creative project–will give your subconscious time to process and find solutions to your design challenges. You’ll come back refreshed and ready to create even better designs for your next outreach brochure or flyer for storytime. This is a great thing that should also absolve you of any lingering guilt for taking time away from doing more and learning more on graphic design. By widening your scope of creative endeavors, you widen your personal encyclopedia of inspiration and understanding to draw from in your next project.

Plus, you’ll probably have a chance to eat a cookie and drink some coffee or tea while resting your wrists before another wordsprint. And, who knows, you might find another graphic designer among the writers at your event who you’d never meet otherwise.

So get out there and find inspiration through writing. You never know what you’ll be able to bring back into your library graphic design work until you do. And, good luck and fast writing to all my fellow WriMos! 🙂

I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!




Friday Design: Sign Inspiration and Library Exhibits

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had another lovely week and are excited about the weekend. We are almost to the end of October and I can hardly believe it. So much to do at the end of the year–work to wrap up, cookies to bake, cards to write, NaNoWriMo to win. It seems like there is hardly time to stop and consider anything in the rush at the end of the year. I find it both exhilarating and slightly terrifying. So, this post is part inspiration, part a bit of visual fun to help you find a moment to slow down and look at pretty things, and part call to making better posters for your next library exhibit. Sound good? Okay, let’s get into it.

I spent last week in Washington, D.C. with my mother. We saw more museums and monuments than I thought was possible, walked further than my feet told me was recommended, and generally had a wonderful time even though it was way too hot for the middle of October. Of course, in between looking at all the amazing art, inventions, and such, I spent time taking photos of signs and exhibit designs that inspired me. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas to bring back to the library and luckily it didn’t bother my mother–too much–that I kept taking close-ups of exhibit captions and posters.

It isn’t surprising that the various Smithsonian museums have amazing exhibits and great signage. They have the professionals and experts to put together exhibitions and the support that most libraries can only dream of. But that doesn’t mean we can’t copy some of their best ideas and get inspiration for our own exhibits. My library creates two main exhibits each year and has begun to step up its game in terms of design. I’m part of the exhibit team, so I may be a little–a lot–biased and invested in the outcome of the exhibit designs, especially the posters where I have the most input and sway. So I focused mostly on the exhibit posters, captions, and signage as I walked around the museums. Below is just one example that I love, not just because it is for the exhibit about birds.

photograph of bird poster

This is the poster that greats you as you enter the exhibit and see the first cases of specimens. It is just wonderful. I love the silhouette of the birds, the breaking of the border at the bottom by the egret’s feet, the combination of text, and the overall color scheme used. It is at once a beautiful poster and a great orientation to the exhibit.  I especially love how the headline was colored using sampling from the image. It ties in great. The fact that the type leans towards Art Nouveau is just icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.

birds of the District of Columbia caption close-up

This is a close-up of the headline and caption at the bottom of the poster to show more detail and the great composition of this type. Great use of color to tie the text together and relate back to the main image. The variation of font size clearly denotes the information hierarchy at a glance allowing readers to quickly get information without any confusion.

This poster makes me even more committed to upping our exhibit poster game at my library. It’s so beautiful and eye-catching. Now if I just had a large collection of bird specimens to exhibit at the library…

Outside of the museums, one of our favorite places to walk through was the sculpture garden on The Mall. This sign obviously called to me.

photograph of Metropolitain sign in sculpture garden

So is my point that you have to design in the Art Nouveau style for your next project? Of course not. But consider carefully how you are tying together your type, copy, color, and images to support your message. And, if you can, try to push yourself to take some risks in your designs to create the very best posters and signage for your next exhibit that you can.

I hope you have a wonderful, inspiring weekend full of great reads and fun. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!


Friday Design: Inspiration and a Challenge

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has been going well and you have some lovely weekend plans. Today I want to share a bit more design inspiration and a design challenge. So let’s get into it!

There is so much to love about autumn and the change of seasons can definitely inspire us in life and in our library work. I wanted to share some things that are inspiring me for the autumn and would love to hear what is inspiring you, too.

UPPERCASE Magazine is endlessly inspiring. I love that it is printed with such care and vibrant colors. That in the previous issue the editor and designer, Janine Vangool, explained and showed all the new typefaces she was using in a refresh of the magazine. I love all the interviews and showcases of artists’ works in areas I don’t work in, but find inspiring nonetheless. A recent issue even had a large spread of artist’s books, which was amazing, and the love of print and craft shows through in each issue. Highly recommended for refueling your creative tanks when you think you’ve run out of ideas.

I love the reviews and information from The Well-Appointed Desk. Great round-ups of other posts and news around the web in “Link Love” and this blog keeps me searching for the perfect teal blue fountain pen ink–plus keeps me motivated to write holiday cards.

NaNoWriMo is coming! Is your library participating as a Come Write In spot? You should. Although you’ll be creating with more words than you’d ever use on a flyer (right?), it is a great opportunity to meet a community of wonderful writers and get inspired to create no matter what medium you’re using. Also, you never know when you might get an idea for your library’s next round of marketing materials from another writer’s story. Plus, it is a great excuse–as if you need one–to break out your button-maker and make some buttons to share!

While I don’t have a link for this one, seeing all the signs for pumpkin patches and autumnal festivals around also inspires me in the fall. I love getting new lettering ideas and seeing what works and doesn’t in signage. I always enjoy seeing what color combinations are used and what I might be able to do in the library with them.

So, now, to the design challenge. Find something new to inspire you this autumn. Maybe it’s a new hike, a new sign for a restaurant that just opened, a great book, or a talk with a friend. Whatever it is, translate your inspiration into a design–your choice for format and size–that speaks to you about autumn. Interpret autumn however you want. (Think about how the artists for the monthly Smashing Magazine wallpapers all design for the same month, yet create radically different final products.) Then, if you’re willing, share your design in the comments. I’ll be sharing mine in an upcoming post.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend, full of all good things. (And if you need a tasty, autumnal treat, check out Joy the Baker’s Vanilla Sweet Potato Waffles.) Inspiration is all around you–you just need to look! I’ll be back soon with some more news and notes. Allons-y!



Friday Design: Awesome Koloa Signs

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you have a relaxing weekend planned. I’ve been traveling this past week and wanted to share some signs I particularly liked in Koloa. You can see, there isn’t any Helvetica in sight and these signs provide some good examples of what libraries can do to make their signage unique and even playful while still communicating effectively.

So here are a few of the signs I saw while walking around:

photograph of Kaua'i culinary market sign

This is a great sandwich board sign for the weekly farmers market. It is cute, easy-to-read, uses the branding font for “The Shops at Kukui’ula” and manages to look professional and homespun at the same time. Love it and the market that it advertises. And, check out the great use of the same colors in the image of the basket and the type used on the sign. This is some thoughtful graphic design. You could try the same color sampling and minimalist design in your next library project.

photograph of sign for Halele'a Gallery

This is the beautiful sign for the Halele’a Gallery in the same outdoor shopping complex. Not Helevetica and still classy! Love the drawings of ferns and fronds around the gallery’s name to create what looks like a name seal. It is beautiful, subdued, and would look great on everything from this sign to letterhead, business cards, and (of course) seals. So lovely. Execute all your library designs with this much grace and people will notice.

photograph for Martin and MacArthur

Another great sign, this one showing a beautiful example of using flourishes for the capitals. Notice in the background on the building how the same “M” is used above the name in the sign. Beautiful, classy, with a lovely color palette that completely works with the yellow of the building, the white of the trim, and the tropical plantings out front. This is signage done right.

Has your library considered how its signage will work within the context of where you will hang it? If you haven’t, you should.

photograph of store directoryThis is one of the store directories. Notice how they same font is used consistently, even though all these businesses uses different fonts in their branding. Easy to read, no extraneous information or little descriptions that no one could ever possibly read at a glance.

Does your library have a directory? Is it as clear and easy to read? If not, its time to make it clearer. Also, note that you don’t have to use a san serif font to make directories readable, you just have to select your font with care.

photograph of sign asking people not to smokeThis is without a doubt my favorite sign at this shopping center. It is witty, clever, and gets its point across without some large, red circle with an “X” over a clip art image of a cigarette. Notice that the san serif font used is playful, which reinforces the language used, but it is still clear.

Libraries could learn from this when creating signage that we want to be more positive instead of negative–especially in regards to noise issues and cell phone use. Clear headline with clever copy. Would love to see such signage in libraries, though probably sans chicken.

Hope you enjoyed this look at some signage and how you can apply lessons from them to your next library sign design. I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of reading, creating, and fun. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!


Friday Design: Soup Can Label Redesign

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a lovely week and have a wonderful weekend planned. For today’s Friday Design Talk, I want to talk about redesigns, specifically in the context of soup cans. But it applies to libraries, especially with regards to logo redesigns, rebranding efforts, and web redesigns. So let’s talk soup!

I was recently in a store shopping with my husband when we noticed that Progresso has redesigned their soup can labels. I took two photos, which you can see below, of the redesigned labels on the left and the older design on the right. So what do you notice? What speaks to you? What works and doesn’t work for your design sensibilities? I’ll wait a bit while you check out the cans and think about it. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you my thoughts below the photos.

photograph of two cans of clam chowderphotograph of two cans of chicken noodle soup

Okay, are we ready to talk redesign and rebranding? Yes? Great!

So, first things first, there really isn’t anything terribly wrong with the redesigned soup labels and the rebranded Progresso banner. But there really, in my opinion isn’t anything great either. It is all quite bland, which I’m almost positive wasn’t what anyone wants people to think of when they think of their soup line. You want soup to be delicious, aromatic, comforting, yummy, right? I just don’t get that feeling from the new design.

So what is in the new design and what’s been changed?

The serif fonts used in the old label have been swapped out for a plain san serif font. Okay, one could make the argument that this makes the label easier to read. It also makes it look like every other redesigned packaging and sign I’ve seen over the last few years. It seems like a large chunk of the design world has been swept up in the Helvetica trend and san serifs are the only go-to fonts used anymore. I have nothing against a good san serif, but I never get the feeling that it is either “traditional” like the label says nor do I feel like it makes me think “yum, soup”.

The new label is less busy. There are no pops of color from the vegetables on top of the Progresso banner (which I seriously thought was part of their logo, but apparently isn’t). There is no depth to the label–most of the gradients have been removed, giving the new banner a flat look, even with the bit of movement with the swoop of the banner from left to right.

The use of just the bowl of soup as the focal image, instead of a close-up with the spoon is an interesting choice. Even with the removal of the center square with the name of the soup from the old labels, it feels like the label now has an odder delineation of space. It almost looks like the can is frowning with how the bottom of the label cuts off the soup bowl, but that could just be me.

The new labels just feel bland, like they don’t want to stand out from the crowd, they just want to sit on the shelf with every other soup can and be quiet. That’s not what you want when you are competing for market share in soup. You want to be bold–to connect–to be different. Stand out. It’s okay. At least they kept the blue, although it is much lighter overall, so I can find it in the soup aisle.

So what does this have to do with libraries? If you are contemplating a redesign or a design of a label, a logo, or really anything for your library, don’t be bland. Be bold. You don’t have to follow every hot new design trend. You don’t have to set everything in san serif fonts and you don’t have to make everything completely flat in your design. Pops of color can be good and eye-catching. In design, as in life and libraries, sometimes you have to standout and be brave. Don’t always go with the safe choice, just because it is there. Pick fonts and colors and designs and graphics that truly connect with your message and evoke the emotions that you want to evoke with your designs.

And, if you are designing for soup packaging, make sure its label screams yum and comfort (it doesn’t have to actually say those words, but the design should). Think about what your design needs to communicate first, always–then go from there.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of fun and relaxation as we head into autumn. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!


Friday Design Fun

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has been grand. Mine has been a congested walk through a cold that just won’t quit. But I can’t complain because the weather has been glorious and I have enough energy for walking again, plus have some lovely inspiration to share with you today. So let’s dive in before we scamper away to our weekends!

First up, we all could use some design inspiration as we look at our calendars and see August slipping away and back-to-school season is upon us. So check out Smashing Magazine’s August Inspiration. So much beautiful work and ideas for new aesthetics and color palettes to try. Doesn’t it just make you want to start drawing?

Also is anyone else sick of reading all the articles, tweets, and posts that suggest we can only be happy if we quit our day jobs and go travel the globe? Yes? Not just me? If you are sick of it to, go read this lovely article: Dear Internet, Stop Telling Me to Quit My Job. Love it. 🙂 Reminder that we don’t all have to quit our jobs in order to have satisfying, creative, artistic, and fun lives.

But sometimes, when we are trying to become better at anything (everything?) in life, we can take on too much. Especially true if you are dipping your feet into the world of libraries and graphic design. There is so much to learn, so much to master, so much to do! When does anyone find the time? How do you do it all at once?

The answer is simple: you don’t. Check out this article on the scientific argument for mastering one thing at a time which also relates to the domino effect. It’s like my  mother always impressed on us as kids: you do the hard work and it gets easier and you can move on to the next thing. Don’t try to do everything at once, focus on one task and skill at a time and you’ll find that you’ll be able to master it and have the motivation to move onto the next thing. Sometimes, inertia can totally work in our favor (as long as we are already moving!).

If you still aren’t sold on Pokémon GO and its potential uses for libraries (so much design, marketing, and programming potential!), check out how to “Entice a Pokémon GO Player to become a Library User with these 5 Conversation Starters!” A bit dorky? Yes, but I’d expect nothing else from my lovely libraryland. Plus, we can laugh together and get people using the library, which is totally win-win. The article also links to a good guide to Pokémon GO if you aren’t sure what all the hype is about.

And, while not about librarian graphic designers or design inspiration, I wanted to share this TED article on why online privacy matters and how to protect yours as I know this is an issue dear to many librarians hearts and many of us teach about online privacy to our community members.

I hope you have a wonderful day and fabulous weekend! Go create something grand (and make your bed while you’re at it). I’ll be back with some concluding summer thoughts soon and some news. Allons-y!

Library Design Short: It's Always New for Somebody

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope the first week of August has treated you well and you have many fun plans to get the most out of the last bit of your summer (or winter, depending on where you live). I’m looking forward to a few more weeks of picnics, watermelon, and enjoying long days of sunshine. For today’s design short, let’s talk about how it’s always new for somebody. What’s the “it” we’re talking about? Well, really anything when it comes to doing design, especially if you’re just beginning your journey as a librarian graphic designer.

I finished reading Neil Gaiman’s lovely collection of nonfiction this week, The View from the Cheap SeatsAnd it was wonderful, as you’d expect and much of it I’d not read before. What struck me as I was considering what to write about for this week’s post was Gaiman’s discussion of how it something in a book isn’t hackneyed and cliched if it is the first time the reader has ever encountered it. He was specifically writing about children reading, if I remember correctly, but it goes for adults, too. If it is the first time you’ve encountered something, it can’t be hackneyed to you and it can resonate with you, move you, make your life a bit better for it. That’s not hackneyed at all.

And no one should make fun of you for it either, which we see all too often when people dismiss books because “it’s all been done and said before” or when people dismiss the personal discovery of learning something new that others have done before. How many times have you heard, “everyone knows that”?

But everyone doesn’t know that. And it is important to remember in life, in teaching, in listening, and in designing. Everyone doesn’t know it. And that’s okay.

In fact, that’s glorious because it gives you a place where you can help and can connect.

If you know something about graphic design, you can help others with their projects. Not in a bossy, know-it-all way, because no one likes or deserves that. But in a collaborative way that hopefully ends up with both of you being more excited than you were when you started.

At ALA Annual two years ago, I had a poster session where I shared my preliminary research on librarians and graphic design along with examples of my work and best practices. It was a hit and I got to talk with so many lovely librarians. And, I got to share simple tips that for me were now second nature, but news to others. I was listening to one librarian discuss her frustrations with alignment and asked if her guides weren’t working. She looked puzzled and I told her how to pull guides from the rulers so her various text boxes and images would snap in alignment. She was thrilled. She’d never heard of that before as she was trying to figure out it all on her own. So it wasn’t old news to her. It was new and it could help.

As I share my work and my designs in my talks and on this blog, I have to remember that what is new to me might be old to someone else but the reverse is also true. And that keeps me going and keeps me from thinking what I’m doing has no use or meaning or value. Because it does. And if I can help other librarians feel delight instead of dread at creating another programming flyer or postcard or bookmark, then I’ve done what I’ve set out to do. Together we’ll make the library world a little more beautiful and a lot better at visual communication.

So remember, it isn’t hackneyed if you’ve never heard or read or seen it before. Help others as you learn and you’ll get better at your designs, too. And, whatever else you do, be kind. Don’t snuff out another person’s delight at discovering something new. Embrace their excitement and maybe it will even influence you.

Also, if you need some desktop wallpaper delights, check out Smashing Magazine’s selection of August wallpapers. They are inspirational and delightful.

I hope you have a lovely weekend, full of many good things. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Design Short: Color and Random Stuff

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your day is going well and you have a fabulous weekend planned. Today I wanted to share a few resources for determining color palettes for your designs, along with some other design goodies that will hopefully inspire you to tackle your next library design project.

After choosing fonts, I think I’ve gotten the most questions about color when I talk about graphic design for librarians. Everyone wants to know how to choose the correct colors for their work, which is great! We should all think about colors and how they affect the messages we are communicating. Plus, playing with colors is just fun, kind of like playing with finger paints. Of course, we always need to think about accessibility when we are choosing colors–since the whole point is to communicate, it doesn’t serve us well to have information conveyed only through color or with such low contrast (think yellow text on a white background) that some people can’t read it. After we’ve considered accessibility though, there is an endless spectrum of colors to consider. So how do you choose?

As graphic designers know, if you want to have a coherent color palette you need to sample colors from whatever image you are using in your design. This is easy in programs like Photoshop. If you don’t (or can’t) use Photoshop, you can always upload your image to Color Palette FX and get an automatically generated color palette. Using colors that are drawn from an image you are already using in your flyer or poster or whatever you are designing will make everything look coherent. The people who are looking at your design probably won’t consciously think about this, but they’ll know it looks good to them. If you more help in choosing colors without learning a lot of color theory, check out Smashing Magazine’s article, “A Simple Web Developer’s Guide to Color.” It should get you started and hopefully alleviate any fears you may have about choosing colors.

And while you are looking for colors to use, check out a couple of free icon sets for potential color palettes: Summer Icon Set (super relaxing) and Space Icon Set (intergalactic!).

Also, just for fun, check out these people who are building castle in France with medieval technology. It’s definitely impressive.

I hope you have a lovely Friday and weekend, full of good reads, good design, and good fun. I’ll be back next week with more news and notes. Allons-y!