Welcome to this week’s installment of Overheard On Design Twitter, our new series for which we sift through all the online chatter so that you don’t have to—and so that you can f-i-n-a-l-l-y get on with that very pressing to-do list without the beckoning siren call of the news feed lulling you into inaction.
This week, it wasn’t so much Design Twitter that caught our attention, but rather a certain story circulating on the #design streams of Instagram. After art director and MTV veteran Sally Thurer was interviewed by It’s Nice That last week, she highlighted her frustration on social media that the questions she’d answered weren’t published verbatim. Rather, they’d been sewn together to form a short profile.
Feeling as if her perspective and some of her most salient points had gotten lost in this process, Thurer published the original transcript of the Q&A, lightly edited, on Medium, and explained her decision on her Instagram feed.
In the comments, several other designers expressed being able to relate to the feeling of their ideas being misrepresented in short online profiles. And for those unfamiliar with the process of online interviews, it revealed some of the inner-mechanics of a certain type of profile-writing—especially when reading the interview and written piece side-by-side.
As editors of a design publication, we’re in a unique position to view both sides: On the one hand, when an interviewee agrees to an interview, they are by the nature of the situation ceding control of the narrative to the writers and editors of that publication. On the other hand, that control comes with responsibility, and publications have an obligation to accurately represent their interviewees and the subject matter. Email Q&As, in our experience, don’t usually achieve the nuance that the subject deserves and a profile benefits from (sometimes they’re necessary, but phone interviews are preferable). The point being, blow-ups like this don’t do much to inspire respect for design media.
It’s also true that design publications are not designers’ personal PR machines. We know that designers understand this because we often see Design Twitter bemoan the uncritical elevation of industry “idols” in design media. Nitpicking over lines of an interview that didn’t make it into a profile doesn’t exactly advance that conversation.
Still, it’s an interesting thread to follow for the light it sheds on the broader implications of journalistic methodologies and the expectations of the people on the other side—especially in a small, tight-knit community like graphic design.
Now with that out of the way, onto something a little more lighthearted…
— MexiKode 🥛🐺 (@Mexikode) November 7, 2019
Did you hear? Gradients are back! (As if they’ve ever really went away.) The perennial style gets a bad rap as a sugar-coated crutch to make something look pretty without much work.
Gradients are the lazy designers glitter.
— Merry Bilbo Baggins (@seanrawles) November 7, 2019
We get it. Gradients are everywhere these days. Tech companies are still beating that chromatic drum. We’re “guilty” of it too. The world is swimming in sea of hazy ombre, and you know what? The view from here is nice.
Designers tend to agree, it seems, even if they’re embarrassed by what their attraction to an inherently attractive thing says about them. Design legend Michael Bierut recently brought gradients back into the spotlight when he tweeted about a dark secret he’s been harboring:
An embarrassing secret known only to my closest friends: gradients are my guilty pleasure https://t.co/cxYHb4OxDN
— Michael Bierut (@michaelbierut) November 7, 2019
But was it really a secret?
Was it a secret though? pic.twitter.com/tBfAPr1wqS
— Jarrett Fuller (@jarrettfuller) November 11, 2019
Bierut’s confession gave others the confidence to admit to their own shameful love of gradients:
I too am a card carrying member.
— Joshua Davis (@JoshuaDavis) November 7, 2019
Guilty as charged.
In Twitch’s case gradients come out of comic book visual language used in extruded typography (Superman, Wonder Woman) from the 1930s & 40s.
Then used with genuis by R/GA for “Superman” titles in 1979.
Regardless, we still love the way it all looks.
— Brian Collins (@briancollins1) November 8, 2019
We’re going to go ahead and call it: Gradients aren’t going away. Where there’s Photoshop, there’s a blurry rainbow effect lurking nearby. We’d suggest you full-throated celebrate your basic-ness— perhaps with a tweet!
I see your pleasure and raise you I don’t feel guilty about it!
— Scott Stowell (@scottstowell) November 7, 2019
Lastly, we’re longtime lovers of the work of Robert Beatty, and this week the superdude of psychedelic graphics was celebrating the type design on records by Jimmy Swaggart, who, as he points out, has his “font game on point.”
Jimmy Swaggart font game on point. pic.twitter.com/KWg8apJNAq
— Robert Beatty (@EdSunspot) November 12, 2019
We’ll be honest: we’d never heard of the guy. For those in a similar boat, he’s an octogenarian American Pentecostal evangelist who broadcasts his ministry via the holiest of mediums, television. He was, however, involved in a couple of sex scandals during the ’80s, which while a blow to his religious career (he was ultimately “defrocked” by the Assemblies of God), was an inspiration to Ozzy Osbourne’s song “Miracle Man,” and a number of Fank Zappa lyrics. Which sort of puts a different spin (geddit?) on Swaggart’s typographically delightful records, such as The Truth About Demon Spirits (“6 hours of teaching on the subject of demon spirits”).
It wasn’t just the type people who were going nuts though:
That “frame-inside-a-frame” layout is *chef’s fingers*
— DREW DANIEL (@DDDrewDaniel) November 12, 2019
And this being Twitter, some alerted us to the not-so-obvious-but-also-obvious…
I mean his name is swag art
— kyle dixon (@prrrple) November 12, 2019
To end on a serious note, we’ll leave you with this #mattressmantra. Thanks David Shillinglaw! We think…
— David Shillinglaw (@Dodeshillinglaw) November 11, 2019