St. Patrick’s Day Layout Lesson

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.

Ann Thompson