Or should I say the PROBLEM with Hierarchy?
I mentioned in my last post (which was about 2 months ago, by the way) that I was interested in sharing some of the things that I’ve learned since my schooling began… back in 2016-17. There was one reader who showed an interest in the idea, and that was enough for me. Thank you Experience Film!
It might be that the idea of adding (yet) another dimension to my site was too overwhelming for me, and that would explain why it’s taken me so long to start writing—OR—it could be that I’ve procrastinated because I’ve had ZERO ambition these past couple of months (thanks to the COVID lockdown blues). Either way, thoughts about the idea rolled in and out of my head and never really stuck until I pondered a course that I took in my very first semester. It was then that I realized that there was an opportunity in front of me… a chance to merge some of the things that I’ve learned about design with my thoughts about life.
The class was Typography and it was, by far, the hardest design class that I’ve taken. The instructor was intimidating and—in my humble opinion—was far too rigid to be part of this new creative world that I was exploring. She made the art of graphic design seem as interesting as math. If that is even possible. Ha!
In her defense, I think the point she tried to stress was that you must KNOW the rules of typography before you can break them.
So… what I’ve been thinking about recently is what I learned about the importance of hierarchy. In typography, hierarchy is used to establish what part of the message we want our viewer to see, or read. Long story short, emphasis can be added to titles, phrases, or specific words in our message with the thoughtful use of font styles, sizes, boldness, CAPS, italics, and even color. With the use of hierarchy, we attempt to draw the viewer’s attention in, to focus on what’s important. Assuming it’s a poster that we’re making… what do we want the viewer to see from 10 feet away? Or from 5 feet away? Do we want to beckon them to come closer because we want them to read the fine print, or is the fine print irrelevant?
The same applies to art and photography. Our subject can be clear and crisp, while the poppy field in the background is blurry or faded. Or vice versa. It all depends on what’s important… or what we’re trying to convey. Do we want the viewer to see the woman in the image… or the poppy field? Or both?
Here’s the problem that I have with hierarchy—especially when I start overthinking. What’s important to ME might not be important to YOU. Do I even care about what you want to see or read… or do I just want you to see what’s important to ME? To further complicate this matter, what’s important to me TODAY might seem insignificant tomorrow.
I’ve recognized this conundrum in my writing as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written an article only to wonder (later) if the reader found any value in it. Was it something that someone else wanted to hear, or needed to hear, or was it just something that I wanted to say? Was it even important? Overanalyzing like this can cause creative paralysis, or writers block, and we end up getting nowhere.
How I see this relating to life is the fact that we all come forward with our OWN perspectives. On my blog, for example, I write about MY life. I’ve talked about finding God, my sobriety, my dieting snafus, my various pursuits, and my thoughts about everything from A to Z (twice, as a matter of fact). I’ve shared the road blocks that I’ve encountered, and the solutions I’ve discovered that have helped me overcome these obstacles.
When I think about what’s important to YOU, however, I realize that we are all SO very different. My problems aren’t necessarily your problems. And even if they were, the things that have worked for me might not work for you. It’s a conundrum all right.
If I were to think about hierarchy, and wanted to highlight one universal truth that might come out of everything that I’ve ever written or shared—it would be the famous four words of Banksy:
We may be different, but we are all the same. We are ALL in this together.
So think about what’s important. Spread hope.