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From the Design Desk: Keep Calm, Rinse and Repeat.

We've got a pretty amusing team here at AG Carmel.  We all get along, so whenever we get the chance to give each other grief, we seize the opportunity.  When our intercom system was installed, this mostly involved finding the most annoying song we could think of and randomly springing it on unsuspecting victims.  This usually backfired, however, because inevitably we'd end up with that same song stuck in our heads for the rest of the day. When you get a song stuck in your head, you repeat it over and over in your mind.  Even if you don't like the song, you end up learning the tune or the words by heart, and the next time you hear it you groan and think, "Not again!" Sometimes design is like that.  You see a logo, an ad, a postcard, or a webpage, and then days later you remember it, because it made such an impression (good or bad) that you can't help but be reminded of it.  You discover a new font, and then suddenly see it everywhere. And sometimes - especially with major design trends - you see it crop up in other places and uses, and the aesthetics of that particular design become ingrained in your brain. For example, I'm sure everyone has seen the muKeep Calm Original Posterltitude of products based on the iconic "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster.  I came late to that party, but I love the idea and the story behind the original.  And while I think some of the iterations are clever ('Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake' is probably my favorite), a lot of them are pointless and simply piggybacking on a popular trend.  And they're everywhere. What is it about a design that gets stuck in our head?  "Keep Calm" has become a part of popular culture - and it's not the first design to do so.  Things like the Obama 'Hope' campaign poster by Shepard Fairey, Milton Glaser's "I Love New York", and Saul Bass's title sequence for "Anatomy of a Murder".  All three of these men were designers and artists who spawned legions of imitators - good and bad. There's a difference though, between imitation and inspiration.  Imitation is exactly that - repeating the same thing over and over again, like that annoying song that just seems to be everywhere you go.  But inspiration is different. There was a quote I heard a few years ago that was something like "Steal like an artist."  As artists and designers, we are encouraged to steal ideas, but to make them our own.  This is how creativity happens - one idea spawns another, which becomes something else.  The ultimate goal is to become the kind of designer that inspires others to imitate and build from your art. So the next time you see a design that gets stuck in your head (or a song, for that matter!) figure out what about it makes it so memorable, and then use those ideas in your own work.  You'll find yourself learning new things and new techniques that you might not have tried otherwise.

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