Classic Cars Versus Graphic Design

Classic: adj. 1. an older style; 2. a style which never goes out of fashion.

There’s just something striking about the look of a well-kept classic car. Back in the days when the look and sound of a vehicle was more important than its fuel economy or its affordability, those big, beautiful cars you see in classic car magazines and at antique car shows reigned supreme. The Lincoln Continental, the Lamborghini Countach LP500S, the Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder, the 1970s Dodge Challenger, the Lancia Stratos—all are snazzy, look-at-me examples.

But above all those other cars (yes, even above the expensive Lamborghinis and Ferraris!), the one vehicle that makes me stop and stare, without fail, is a Chevrolet Corvette C3 Stingray Coupe. The purr of that beautiful engine alone is unhealthily sexy, but the look of that car is the real attention grabber. The Stingray is a multi-meter long car, with the majority of its length in the front—a feature that puts it in stark contrast with rounder modern cars. The hood of the ’Vette rises at the sides above the front wheels for a distinct and characteristic silhouette; the metal skin rises in an arc over the rear wheel wells in a way that draws the eye back to that gorgeous hood and pulls the look of the whole car together into one unified whole. Yes, I am a big fan of the Corvette C3. (Show me one in royal blue and I will squeal.) But why is that at all important for a graphic design blog?

Well, I’ve said it already. The Stingray is an attention snatcher. And just what is it that graphic design is primarily for? Well, it’s to snatch attention, of course! And it’s a strong belief of mine that good design is like a good classic car. There are a few points that factor in especially strongly on that note.

Your car should, ideally, stand out from all the boring, purely efficiency-based cars on the road around you; so should your design stand out from the efficient, but plain signs of the stores down the lane and across the street from you—you want to draw attention to your business or client, instead of the competitor. Your car should make people stop and stare; so should your design make people want to look at it, rather than turning them away. Your car should be memorable, the kind of car that people think about after you’ve turned the corner; so should your graphics inspire thought in your audience, so they’ll remember your message. And finally, just as your car should be beautiful and uniquely yours, so should your design be distinctive and easy on the eyes—a graphic that seems commonplace or ugly can’t make its intended impact, because almost no one wants to look at something boring or unsightly.

Now, maybe classic cars aren’t your thing—maybe cars in general just don’t interest you—but the point stands regardless. Design should catch attention. And more importantly, design should be classic—modern is all well and good, of course, but if you go with the modern, utilitarian look, you’ll never stand out. Be bold, be sleek, and be the designer who can’t put up a design without turning heads from across the street. Stand out like a beautiful, unique Corvette among the commonplace cars of the day; not only will you earn yourself more attention, but that attention will lead to you earning yourself more business as a graphic designer, too.

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