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Stop, Think, Go, Do by Mirko Ilic, Steven Heller

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Much graphic design cannot afford neutrality; it must
grab attention in crowded environments.
ENTERTAIN
Always leave ’em laughing—a lyric in a 1903 song by
Tin Pan Alley great George M. Cohan—is the unofficial
mantra of stand-up comedians everywhere. It might be
appropriate for graphic designers, too—as well as always
leave ’em thinking . . . remembering . . . and doing! A
large amount of graphic design is straightforward or
neutral—“The facts and nothing but the facts, ma’am.
But much graphic design cannot afford neutrality; it
must grab attention in crowded environments and im-
plant the seed (whatever it may be). That is exactly when
the graphic designer must call upon various talents—one
of which is to be an entertainer. Through wit and humor
(or the graphic design equivalent of song and dance) the
receiver is lulled into embracing the message. Entertain-
ment is not just showbiz—it is design biz.
Entertainment and play certainly overlap. However,
to entertain implies acting for an audience, while play
suggests entertaining oneself. Paul Rand said that play
is the most integral part of the design process. “Without
play, there would be no Picasso,” he wrote in Graphic
Wit (1991). “Without play, there is no experimentation.
Experimentation is the quest for answers.
It may not be an experiment, but what could be more
entertaining—ergo memorable—than the series of posters
for Amtrak (page 132), where torso and full-body drawings
of everyday commuters have locomotives grafted to their
heads. If a client heard the idea, they’d probably think
the designer was “loco,” which happens to be one of the
campaigns headlines. But to look at these surreal images
and read the demonstrative headlines (typeset in a version
of Railroad Gothic—what else?) is an “aha” visual, as
natural for the theme of “Trainiacs,” as any more straight-
foward image—and thrice as memorable.
Likewise, the oddball “Be Stupid” (page 134) campaign
for Diesel clothes uses truly goofy and equally surreal
situations (accompanied by provocative headlines)
129

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