When I was just out of high school and enrolled in the Famous Artists Course, the Spring 1960 issue of their magazine was sent to me. Two pages described various approaches in arranging a set of five elements for a layout of a newspaper ad. The lesson offered nine different arrangements of size and alteration of the elements. There was an explanation of each of the versions – and the reason for choosing #8.
I never referred to that lesson. Years later, as I produced many layouts, a client often emphasized the importance of each element or the format, size and length of headline or columns of type – all influenced the choices that were possible. Some ads converted to other sizes, one page, double page, two columns, etc. and each had to carry the basic “look” of them all.
The biggest variety of choices, I found, was when there was full freedom in illustrating in-and-around the needed parts. I was never sure of the best choice. I felt that if I explored as many possibilities that I could in the time allotted, I could leave it to the client to make the choice.
These very rough full-sized “thumbnails”, below, were presented to the San Francisco pharmaceutical agency of Rainoldi, Radcliffe & Bolles on November 10, 1980 for an invitation needed for a gathering in Boston, on St. Patrick’s Day, March 22, 1981. Client : Cutter Laboratories.
Here are the 25 possibilities and the last one shown is the printed invitation.
And – you will see, I had been showing four-leaf-clovers ! Shamrocks have only three leaves.
(Just now, I looked up “shamrock”. I found out that the shamrock was the image used by Saint Patrick to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity and it comes from the Irish word : seamróg.)
Every St. Patrick’s Day, I had seen the decorative three-leaf shamrocks. I might have noticed my mistake before presenting my sketches or did the agency catch my error ?
If the four-leaf-clovers had been spotted only when I submitted my finished art, I would have been required to correct that area with a patch. IF the error, unnoticed, went to print – it would have been a very expensive re-do. Lucky for me, this lesson in layouts taught me to question if I had the correct image of every element required.