Reflection: The Vignelli Canon

After reading The Vignelli Canon, a short booklet by Massimo Vignelli I feel that I have been introduced to so many important aspects of graphic design that I had no idea about prior. I believe that one reason these concepts were so easy to take in is because of the way he laid them out to his reader. While talking about a specific subject, the next page will often be an example of that subject in use. For example, in the section where he talks about “Type Size Relationships”, on the next page there are three examples of different title sizes to help the designer achieve intellectual elegance as opposed to blatant vulgarity.

A section that I enjoyed reading a lot from this booklet was the section about Texture. Massimo Vignelli says, “Light is the master of form and texture”, which is something I have learned from the first week in this course. Light is what elevated my pictures from just normal pictures to something that clearly had time put into it. Taking time to figure out how your subject matter will absorb or refract light prior to your picture can help you plan to get the picture you have in your imagination. For this section, the example photo shows two vases side by side with two completely different textures. The one on the right clearly has a brushed texture along the glass, whereas the left vase is smooth and easy to look at. Here is the picture from the section for reference:

Another section from the booklet that I really felt like I took a lot from is the “Identity and Diversity” section. This is a strange section for companies and corporations because you want customers to be able to recognize your “branding” without having everything you put out look the same. Essentially, you need enough of the same things and enough of difference in all your work. Too much of the same and people feel the redundancy. Too much of diversity creates fragmentation, which as Massimo Vignelli describes, “a very common disease of badly designed communication”. Here is an example that I found of good identity and diversity balance.

This Pinterest Brand Identity picture shows how all the images are about something different, while keeping the style the same. You could easily tell these were all made by the same person but with different goals to accomplish with each unique cover.

In conclusion, these were just two of the sections that I felt I really understood to a different level. Other notable section I recommend you take a look at are: White Space, Color, Layout, Scale, and Visual Power. I think that it speaks volumes to how great his work was that he was so willing to write about important subjects to him to the benefit of all other graphic designers. I think ill end this post with a quote from him about creativity. As Massimo Vignelli says, “Creativity needs the support of knowledge to be able to perform at its best”.

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