Art Direction


There is a rather severe difference of opinion about using a cliché in the design world. I like them. They are clichés because we all understand them. As long as the idea is presented in an unexpected way, it’s all good with me. An arrow is cliché. “Oh, Sean,” I’ve heard, “Arrows are so 20th-century.” But, why be oblique and complicated when it is so easy to point someone in the right direction?

Arrows are wonderful because they are symbols that command. The viewer is not being asked, “Would you prefer to turn right, perhaps?” An arrow screams, “TURN RIGHT! TURN NOW!” How many other symbols can do that? Lester Beall introduced me to the wonderful world of arrows. Not, Lester, personally, but through Lou Danziger’s vast historical knowledge. At a time when design was racing faster toward more is more with less and less clarity, the arrow was a revelation. The zeitgeist of that time was , "make less with more." I wanted to make more with less (follow me? More meaning, less stuff.). I could put an arrow on a poster next to a headline and the viewer would read this first. Who knew?

Unfortunately, arrows are a temptation. Like all wonderful things, too much is not good. Judicious usage is needed. As Groucho Marx said: “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”
















The Right Way, Part 1

I like arrows. They are strong and commanding. They make no apologies. They seem to say, “Go there! Now!” But if you rely on the arrows supplied by Zapf Dingbats or as stock arrows in Adobe Illustrator, or InDesign, well, the results can be rather dull. So I spend too much time looking for good arrows. Let’s face it, they all look fairly similar. After all, how much can one do with a triangle and attached rectangle? Over the years, I’ve collected many arrows, and in the spirit of sharing, please see attached. Of course, Disneyland and Walt Disney World are a treasure chest of arrows. Guests need to find their way around the parks. And, yes, I am that odd person photographing the arrow on the sidewalk.