July 2011

newsletter #1 Ha! Yes! design

First, you gotta get the green.

Little Tweaks, Big Results
Independent filmmaker Lydia Nibley, whose Two Spirits just enjoyed a run on PBS, showed me the prospectus for her next film, which she is pitching to producers. This is the step where everybody gets excited, wets their jeans and gets it made, or it just leans against the wall watching all the other kids dance until it gives up and goes home to watch John Hughes teen-angst movies.

This is how the pitch for In Her Honor looked when it came to me. It’s certainly clean and functional, but doesn’t quite have that look that says, “Pour millions of dollars into me and the world will become a better place, plus you can show up at Sundance and tell everyone you’re a producer. You should start developing a tolerance for California champagne and begin shopping for black turtlenecks now.” This is what Lydia wanted it to say, and she was in no mood to watch The Breakfast Club, so she asked me to give it more polish, in time for her next meeting—in two days.

I did it that night.

What we’re using now is nothing fancy, but it has a flow to it. There’s white area to keep the reader from feeling like she’s being engulfed by quicksand. The photos are no longer plopped in the middle, but guide the eye through the document. Color is used for more than just photographs, to show what is important, and what is less so. In short, it’s no longer just saying it will be a quality film; it’s showing it. And the In Her Honor team is growing, with numerous contributors signing on. It’s looking very much like this thing is going to dance.

How To Look Good, Fast

The easiest way to make your document more professional is through the wise use of type. Choose typefaces that are clearly different, yet complement each other. The most foolproof way is to use a bold sans serif for the headlines, and a Roman font for the body. “Serifs” are the little pointy things on letters that could draw blood. “Roman” refers to faces like this one, with serifs and thick and thin strokes. “Sans” is French for “without.” “Sans serif,” therefore, is like the blue headline; it has no serifs.

The next step is to not use Arial or Times Roman. They’re on every computer in the world, so nearly every bad job uses those faces. When you use them, you automatically fall into the Pile O’ Schlock, no matter how good your job should look. They’re not bad typefaces, they’re just overused. Be braver than that. Make your mother proud.

Ha! Yes! Design is . . . Jim Hayes, some electronic equipment, and a strange collection of antique pencils, all operating in a home office, where he can keep an eye on his teenage daughters. It’s the same entity as Cenozoic Design, but with a new name that people can spell and doesn’t prompt explanations of the geologic eras on a regular basis. (Mesozoic = dinosaurs. Cenozoic = now.) I’ve thrived as a free-lancer for 20 years because my philosophy is to provide high-quality design, illustration and writing, within your time frame, at a cost lower than places with receptionists. Call (801) 486-8444. Email Jim@ha-yes.com.