April 12, 2006

Museum store shop for is open inspiration!

Museum BannerI saw this banner outside a museum last week, and I had to take a picture. I haven’t seen such a confusing use of type is a long time.

First I thought it said “museum store shop for is open inspiration!” but of course that makes no sense.

I tried again, separating the small 2D letters from the big 3D letters. This time I ended up with two sentences, “store is open” and “museum shop for inspiration!” I’m pretty sure the first sentence makes sense, but I don’t know about the second one.

Trying again, I attached “museum” to “store is open” to get “museum store is open” which makes sense. But that left me with “shop for inspiration!” which I guess makes sense grammatically but seems overly exuberant for a gift shop.

In the end, I guess I may have figured out what the designers meant, or I may not have figured it out. I’m sure there are other equally-likely ways to parse the sentences that I haven’t even tried. I have no idea. But if it takes more than a couple seconds to figure it out, that can’t really be a sign of a well-designed banner, can it?


Just goes to show that just because you have a computer and keyboard, it doesn’t make you a graphic artist. How ‘bout the alternating colors in the 3d effects? and white brackets, not parentheses, around the area code? white hypens between the hours? It looks like the losing banner in a reality show contest to promote the new museum store.

I think this is good… made you think, right? That’s what most art is for, contemporary art at least.

Oh dear! I hope the displays inside the museum are a little less confusing!

For a banner which is primarily targeting traffic of pedestrians and automobiles, this banner’s design is not only confusing, but the message is as well. It reminds me of a sign I saw on the sidewalk that said - “Authentic Food” with no name of the restaurant or anything. What is authentic about “food”? I have yet to eat or explore the restaurant, but the confusing message still sticks in my mind. Maybe this is a new subversive design arising?

“I think this is good… made you think, right? That’s what most art is for, contemporary art at least.”

It made me think about shoving a shiv in my eye socket. The primary goal of graphic design is to communicate, ideally in a visually interesting manner. It does neither. But everybody’s a designer these days, so what do I know?

It looks like a casebook specimen of PC vs. Mac design, ca. 1996. Sorry, but that’s the vibe I pick up. –Or something designed and executed in a preset-heavy environment such as Word. A receptionist or student likely did it, and the only incongruity about the design is the relatively high end output it received for a job of its kind.

On another front, while I too have loved piling on office/clerical designers, I think you’re too hard on this. As someone else says here, it does make you think. That’s significant, and maybe the whole point. But there’s also the fact that I got the joke on first glance. The meaning came in a disorderly and aesthetically odious goulash, sure, but it all arrived at the same basic time and made sense. Why would you have a problem with that? If this banner is worth a column of condescending print, I’d say McDonald’s broadcast ads are worth the gold-stamped Morrocan leather bound twenty volume set. And pros supposedly churn out that great art and design.

The only thing I know for sure is that the client deserved the results.

I’ll repeat this a few times, unpick it, shuffle it, remember it… then visit the shop to see what the hell it’s all about… then probably end up spending some money.

This is Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, SC. David Carson has been their creative director since 2004. Maybe now the incomprehensible composition is justified?

Looked and saw the “Store is open. Shop for inspiration.” version right off. I’d say not right for ‘serious business’ but quite good for ‘inquiring minds’ type stuff. Nobody looking for a good toaster or a new pair of jeans is going to go there anyway.

Not just incomprehensible; also unattractive. I’m sure even David Carson uses interns. Off topic: I do like Carson’s use of innovative typography to enliven the Gibbes website.

I am glad to see I am not the only person who pays attention to things like this.