Stay Simple

An Online Skillshare Class by Peter Mendelsund

"Stay Simple" is a phrase I tell myself all the time when I'm designing. I just recently took the "Read, Think, Design: Create Stunning Book Covers" class at Skillshare.com. It's taught by Peter Mendelsund, who is the associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf and art director of Panthon Books. Peter talks about the different steps he takes to curate a design for a book cover but the common link in all his steps is "simplicity"; breaking things down to it's core and picking out key things to help spark creativity. He also reiterates that less is more, sometimes the most simple things make the biggest statement, whether it be color, object, effects, typography, etc…Lets face it, no one wants to have to think really hard about whats going on on a books cover, they want to save it for when they dive into the great story thats waiting for them on the other side. A cover should be bold and make a quick statement and maybe even give a small simple hint of whats to come, something that will make a person say " oh, look at that" and grab that book. 

I carry this over into my life as well. For a person like me who have anxiety issues and has a new baby and a 5 year old who needs continuous stimulation I need to often step out of my skin and tell myself to SIMPLIFY, clean out all the extra distractions and clutter (being physical or mental) and breathe. When I can do that I feel so much more aware, and organized. Prime example: religiously every night either myself or my husband will sit down with Zoe and read a book or two before bed. Last night I told her it was my turn to pick a book so I chose one of my favorites, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. If you have not read it, it's just simple black and white line drawings with a few words on each page. After we were done, I asked Zoe how she liked it, She answered with her own question, "mommy, why haven't you ever read this one to me?", it made me think that she was right, I haven't read this to her since she was two or three years old….it was stuffed away in-between her millions of books on her shelves and forgotten probably because she always goes for the more vibrant and fun stories. We discussed the moral of the book and then she wanted me to read it again but I said maybe tomorrow night, she couldn't wait, so I read it one more time. She got more out of this simple colorless book then any of her millions of colorful illustration packed books ( don't get me wrong, those are good too!) on her shelves. I needed that, I needed to know from her that she too can understand the meaning of simple and appreciate it.