A Guest Blog from Project Graphic Designer Susan Baker: Telling a Story and Engendering Curiosity

Telling a story and engendering curiosity

Hi there, Susan Baker here, graphic artist for both team Kardashian and Jersey Shore as they re-imagine the exhibits at the Sandy Spring Museum. I am the one who will produce the files of text and photos that will go to printers to be made into the descriptive text and photo panels. Allison Weiss of the Sandy Spring Museum and I are designing a template for the Museum signage, and our Extreme Exhibit makeovers are our jumping off point. I am following the development of both teams’ exhibits, and being a “keep it succinct” nag, suggesting that stories be kept brief and clear.

A big question an exhibit viewer has is, “what here do I care about?” How many seconds does an exhibit have to say to the viewer “this is an important story”, and then how does the exhibit hold the viewer’s interest through out its story? What images, colors, or information will pique the viewer’s desire to learn, and encourage them to research to learn more? What makes the viewer want to care about the exhibit’s story and to recognize how it pertains to them? How do we, as designers, present the story in a way that attracts and holds the attention of the viewer? What type style, words, images, or items will attract them and encourage them to care enough to explore the story? How do we “set the stage” of the exhibit to draw a broad range of viewers to the story? How much of the story do we tell at first glance, and how do we draw viewers into the deeper aspects of the story? How do we give the right amount of information about the heart of the story? Will the viewer want to come back again to look deeper at the story, and will they walk away with a broader understanding and a desire to learn more?

Because the teams are working on display ideas that are very unique in nature, I am presented with a puzzle of unifying the type and graphic presentations in some way. Every display will get a banner, along with necessary descriptive panels may be unique in format, color, and type style for each exhibit. The individual item identifier tags will be the same format through out, and they can use as many of those as needed. With the interactive concepts being discussed, signs indicating “Please Touch” and “Please Do Not Touch” indicators should be considered.

General rules of thumb for display type ease of reading is:

  • Banners — 3” capital letter height, try and go no longer than two lines on a maximum 6’ long banner … unless you absolutely have to. If using all capital letters, the shorter your sentence the better. Upper and lower case is much more friendly.
  • Descriptive panels — should have their titles in 24 point type, sub-titles in 20 point type, and text no smaller than 18 point type, with at least 2 points leading (line spacing) each, in upper and lower case letters which is easier to read.
  • Identifier tags — 18 point type is a good place to start. Since folks will be walking through the exhibits we can possibly go smaller. Again, upper and lower case text is friendly and easy to read.

Thank you! Susan

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