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You Eat With Your Eyes

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Have you ever heard the expression, “You eat with your eyes first”?  The culinary industry seems to live by it, reasoning that if a plate of food looks good then we will just naturally assume it tastes good.  It doesn’t even matter whether or not you like the food that the chef is plating.  If you like the way it looks, if the chef has made it so attractive to you that your brain now wants to know how it tastes, you will more than likely give it a chance.  When a chef can make you try something you normally wouldn’t based on looks alone, he or she has done their job well.

Isn’t the same true for Designers?

Think about it.  The main goal of a design, from a magazine ad to a trade show booth, is to get someone to stop flipping that page or power-walking that aisle and actually pause to look at the attractive presentation of whatever the subject matter may be.  The same way we sit in a restaurant and point at a tray of food that catches our eye and changes our mind on what we’re about to have for dinner, as designers we want to catch a show-goer’s attention and make them want what we are designing.

But how do we do it?  A chef uses great ingredients, excellent knife skills and a highly trained kitchen staff to tempt us into betraying our diets.  What do we use?  Let’s continue the restaurant and chef analogies, and apply them to what makes a great looking design.

eatwitheyesGreat Ingredients
This is everything from the source files we use within the design to the programs we use to create the design.  Using poor file quality can obviously have a severely negative impact on a design, but so can using out-of-date programs!  The program suite we use to create in is constantly coming out with new versions, new ways to do things, easier and faster ways, better ways to accomplish our end goal.  You’ve got to stay up on the most recent version to be able to continue staying on the cutting edge of design.

Excellent Knife Skills
My wife constantly tells me that she can’t draw a stick figure to save her life.  While I hold the personal belief that anyone can create art, I also hold the belief that not everyone can be a designer.  You have to have the skills and training necessary to be a good designer.  These can be gained through a degree or through experience, but they have to be there.

Highly Trained Kitchen Staff
No man lives on an island, and no designer (worth their salt) designs in a vacuum.  No matter how confident a designer acts, we don’t know everything.  Just like I know my job, a printer knows their job, an engineer knows their job, so on and so forth.  A good designer makes use of the people around them and their expertise to pull off some amazing designs.  That includes other designers!

So what’s the point of all this, besides making you hungry?  Just as you wouldn’t go to a fast food chain and expect a 5-star meal, you can’t go to a bargain-basement online service and expect a great design.  Instead, look around, do a little research and find a designer or design team you trust to serve up a final product that turns heads.

I might know a few…


About the Author
Tim Toolen is a Senior Designer at Optima Graphics, and has been in the Trade Show industry for over 15 years. He also runs a successful blog about the Tabletop Miniatures hobby at miniaturetim.blogspot.com

  1. August 1, 2014 at 11:45 am

    This is a great analogy! As a fellow graphic designer I LOVE learning from other designers, and I was just telling myself today I need to upgrade to creative cloud at home. Still using good ol’ CS4 haha.

    • Tim Toolen
      August 7, 2014 at 9:22 am

      CS4 is a good few steps back now, eh? Don’t feel too bad, I may have the updated versions at work, but I’m still on CS3 at home! Though with the subscription based method of CC, I may also be upgrading soon!

  2. August 1, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Good message Tim. Long ago I was a chef, so you had me at EAT. You kept me there with the thoughts and analogies.

    • Tim Toolen
      August 7, 2014 at 9:23 am

      Glad you liked it, Stephen! I was hoping that I’d capture attention with the title, but it’s even more gratifying that I kept the attention of a chef with it.

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