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Ron Paul's "What If?" speech - Remastered

I came across this video via a Rachel Maddow post on Facebook. All politics aside – I find this video interesting. In an odd way. There is something just a little bit off with this video. Typographically, it’s a masterful design. The music adds an additional layer. The speech flows to match the ever-changing typographic design. But, there’s something here that bugs me and I can’t explain it just yet.

First off, let me give you some background information about this speech. It was given February 12, 2009 on the House Floor. The actual speech can be viewed on YouTube. As for this video, the font used is Bleeding Cowboys and the music used is Metallica’s “To Live Is To Die”.

I think I’m going to explain my immediate feelings about this video and then come back and add to this post… as I stated up front, I’m not sure how to explain what’s “off” to me yet. But in the interim I would love to hear some commentary. What do you think?

Let’s get started — As a fan of typography, this video caught my eye from the instant I clicked it on. It wasn’t the music or the speech that I was paying attention to, it was the black, white, and red type. Using a very ornate font and putting it through its paces. Using every angle. Smooth movement. Precise timing with the speech. I think I would have been totally satisfied with the typographic experience without the speech included. Just dancing type with a musical accompaniment. Oh, I think I’m hitting on something here… let me run this around in my head a bit more…

Added on top of this typographic ballet is the speech given by Ron Paul. I have no commentary to offer about its content and prefer to view the speech only as an integral part of a designed piece. Do you think the added typographic display makes it easier to understand the contents of this speech? I think I’m at a “which came first” moment. Did the speech inspire the type? Or, did the type inspire the inclusion of the speech? (Duh, I know the speech is the source for the words used, but perhaps any words would have worked as well for this typographic ballet.) When you are concentrating on the type does the content of the speech truly resonate? Do you get its full meaning? Are you able to walk away and remember the speech for its content? Right now, I’m thinking – no. I think this video works more as performance art than political ad.

In order for this video to be considered an ad it would have to be somewhat apparent who it was being marketed to. I find it difficult to come up with a singular target market that includes people who would be compelled to engage in the design, musical background, and of course, the message. Is it possible that a singular market exists for this video? More likely, the piece is an attempt to hit all the buttons at once. Something that rarely proves successful. And if it is not an ad at all then there is no concern for the message in and of itself. What matters then is the perfect balance of each design element. The result being a pleasing display of type as it dances across the screen aided by the tempo of a musical layer. If you happen to engage in parts of the message as well, that is a bonus. I would then say the main focus is to catch your attention and provoke a conversation afterwards. Just as I’m doing here…

My apologies as this is not a typical post. A bit rambling perhaps. I did warn you upfront that I have not formed my thoughts fully. I rarely come across examples like this video and would love to hear some feedback. What do you think?


For myself, any article about color is fascinating. I realize, I’m a designer, and so it’s only natural that I find this topic interesting. Over the years I’ve had to work with clients to complete various types of projects. Whether a print job or web-based, all of these projects used color for impact, continuity, branding, emotional hook, etc. Recently I came across this article, “Things Designers Need To Know About Color” (via Naldz Graphics), and thought it would be helpful for non-designers as well.

Any information I can pass along to current or future clients can only benefit our working relationship. I encourage everyone to read this article and hopefully you will learn something new or gain a better understanding of the many aspects of the use of color. The next time you are faced with a creative challenge that utilizes color I hope you will remember some of the facts from this article. If you are a non-designer working with a design professional I hope this information helps the communication process.

A continuing fascination of mine is how we perceive what we see. The biology of it all amazes me. A recent article by Steven Bradley (via vanseodesign), explains the process in a way that is easily understood. He recommends the book, “Visual Language For Designers” by Connie Malamed.

His article has definitely sparked my interest. I plan on reading the book and will let you know what I’ve learned. In the meantime I thought I’d pass along this book suggestion and the related article. posted this new color identifying system. Absolutely fascinating and surprisingly logical. Years ago I worked with a designer who was color blind. I had no idea. He managed to execute perfect ads. It wasn’t until someone played a prank on him and rearranged his markers that we came to know he was color blind.

I wonder how a system like this would have affected his productivity. Beyond that, think of all the applications to benefit someone who is color blind navigate and participate in their world. And, from a design perspective, I find this system to be a wonderful use of easy to read symbols that should prove useful anywhere around the globe.

I continue to monitor the changing nature of our media. As a designer it’s important to stay on top of trends in design and production. More important – on a personal level – I try to source information about changing standards and practices. Lately I’ve pointed my attention to news – particularly the way it’s collected, processed, and distributed for public consumption. I’ve been trying to notice shifts in ethics, validity, and attachment to special interests. It’s a personal obsession at the moment…

I just came across this article by Edward Wasserman, published in The Miami Herald today. If you have any interest in who is writing the news, I recommend taking some time to read this. Form your own conclusions. Do your own research on the topic. I offer this link as another source of information.

Special interests write `news’

A recent post on FishbowlNY (“FishbowlNY Readers Respond: What You’ll Pay For”, 12/29/09, explores responder’s views on paying for online content. As someone who has struggled on a personal and professional level with the virtues of print versus digital sources of information I find the results of their poll in line with my own preferences. However, the more I think about this I realize that perhaps I am not evaluating the benefits and flaws of both media in a totally balanced manner.

Like most of you, I come from a predominantly print background. I learn by reading books. I acquire information about current events or areas of interest via magazines, both subscribed to and purchased based on need/want. I was educated in design and how to apply that knowledge to a print medium. Flash forward and I have had to re-educate myself to know how to utilize the vast amount of information and ideas that are readily available online. Professionally I have had to acquire the skills and knowledge that allows me to successfully navigate, filter, and utilize the tools needed to provide online content and to determine legitimate and worthy content from irrelevant fluff, spin, and misinformation.

It just occurred to me that perhaps I’ve been too swift in coming to the conclusion that I prefer receiving my information via a digital source versus a print one. I’ll use newspapers as my example. I’ve been a regular reader of newspapers. Before the advent of instant info via the web, I was happy to glean the facts about local, state, national and world news from my hometown paper. Whatever wasn’t covered in print would surely show up on the daily news on television. How simple life used to be… With the breadth of a tsunami wave online content has taken over as the main distribution channel for news. I can’t say I was adverse to the thought. I happily awaited the time when I could sit down in front of my computer and peruse the news of the day, research for information, and eventually have the ability to participate on a personal level with the addition of access to online content. At that point it seemed that the circle was complete. I could see what was going in, I could pull out what I wanted, and I could add to that circle of information at will. What a perfect setup!

Time passed and I began to realize that some of the information I was reading in the newspaper was “old news”. Why should I care to take the time to read about an event that was already covered online? How could the newspaper expand on what I thought I already knew? Little by little the articles started to shrink in size. The pages were being filled up more and more by ads for local businesses and the like. That’s perfectly o.k. if you have a need for that info, but for me, it started to look more like “fill” and less like substance. I will admit I became disinterested in the newspaper. It “didn’t get it” anymore… My days of relaxing and reading the paper were numbered.

Not to be left behind in the dust cloud of the progression to digital format I readily accepted the challenge. What I hadn’t prepared for was the volume of information at my fingertips. Literally at my fingertips. With a few key strokes I could access information from virtually anywhere in the world. I could zero in on commentary that matched my point of view. I could choose to disregard anything I deemed inappropriate, inaccurate or irrelevant to my needs. It didn’t take long to realize that I had not considered the amount of time and attention this channel of information required. Now, I had to source the media outlet I would choose to receive the latest info. Now, I had to sift through volumes of online pages and determine if I found the “facts” to be just that, factual or fiction. Now, I had to scutinize the source of information to determine who the messenger really was and did they have any particular point of view or allegiance that put a spin on their material. Of course, that scrutiny applies to printed material too. Perhaps I’m naive, but I think it’s easier to hide your true allegiances online.

At this point the flow of information appears limitless. As long as you leave the faucet open there will be a continuous flow of whatever you choose to tap into. How could this be a bad thing? In and of itself online content appears to be no detriment to society. I actually hope it develops into a trustworthy, reliable, accurate, unbiased, and predominantly positive source of information. I am in no way knocking its current and potential benefits. I do, however, wish to step back from my previous line of thought that I had to choose between print or digital – one OR the other. After more consideration I am inclined to reverse my intention to drop printed media in favor of online. Perhaps it’s too soon to jump ship. Instead I think I might paddle back to printed media if for nothing else but to balance my sources. Traditional printed media has been honed from years of service to the public to offer reliable, documented, timely, unbiased, and easily verifiable news. At least that is the presumption. Until the time comes when I can know with certainty that online content follows the same parameters in the presentation of information as print, I will continue to access whatever is offered but with a degree of increased scrutiny. Online content is our present. It is our future. Until I know it adheres to the ethical legacy of print media I think I will be splitting my attention between print and digital media. As the pendulum swings I know that eventually I will be saying goodbye to the print world I’ve come to know and respect. I hope that time doesn’t arrive too soon. Online content deserves the time required to incubate and develop into the potentially premium source of information we all hope for.

If you’ve spent any time at all viewing my website, it’s pretty obvious that my answer to that question is a resounding NO. Alas, there are many of you who just won’t allow yourself to jump in to the beautiful world of color. Maybe you think you’re going to make a mistake. Maybe you lack confidence in the effectiveness of color. Maybe you just never gave it much thought. Whatever the case, you owe it to yourself to explore the use of color in your marketing.

First off you need to recognize that colors influence individuals in a subjective way. Overall, colors have a distinctive connotation. It’s something that’s been passed down through time and we’ve all incorporated these views without realizing it. If I say – purple – do you think “royalty”. If I say – red – do you think “love”. And how about “black”? In the US black is associated with death, but in China, for example, white is associated with death. Keep that in mind if your business is international. You should be aware of the culturally assigned meanings to colors.

And going along with the subjective view of color, it’s apparent that we all see color a little differently. Some of us, not at all. For example, if you were working up a campaign for a senior audience, it’s best to maintain mid-hues because there is a gradual loss of perception in high contrast color combinations. For babies, their color perception develops gradually. Infants process color in the right side of their brain whereas adults process color in the left side. Babies see pure color compared to the translated color observed by adults. The reason for this is the introduction of language. Language is processed on the left side of our brains and as we connect the color to the word our perception changes. Cool, isn’t it?…

And if you can’t see color, that’s no excuse at all. I once had a graphic designer who worked with me and it was months before he confessed that he was color blind. He managed to do wonderful work by keeping his markers in a row. Somehow he knew what the color was provided it resided in a specific spot on his work area. He didn’t appreciate a practical job played on him some time after the revelation. Someone (who shall remain nameless) switched his markers around. Needless to say he was not amused.

Let’s not forget about trends in color. What’s IN one season will be OUT the next. Or so you are led to believe. For Spring 2009 lavender has been declared the IT  fashion color.
Pantone announced that the color of the year for 2009 is Mimosa

How about automobiles – what do the color choices tell us? Back in the 80’s the colors were combinations to invoke a luxurious expensive vibe. Not your basic blue, but a combo of colors to create a rich blue. And we all acknowledge the appeal of a red sports cars? Today, you’ll find that along with our desire for technology the colors used will have metalics added to create the illusion of techno relevance. I’m not making this up. You’re seeing what you crave.

Now let’s return to how color can make a difference in your marketing plan. Hopefully you all realize that color is part of your brand. Your logo, and everything else associated with your business that you use to communicate with your market should have a consistent color choice. Continuity is key. Without continuity recognition of your brand becomes more difficult. With it, you build your brand. You imbed your product or service in the minds of current and potential consumers. Every effort should be made to choose the appropriate color. What does it say about you?

I can give you a real life example of the impact of color. A few years back I was asked to develop advertising campaigns for laboratory equipment. In the biotech/pharmaceutical industries there isn’t room to stray from the facts. You are obligated to state the facts to enable the buyer to decide if your product is exactly what they need. You can’t fudge the facts, you can’t blow smoke, you can’t do anything that goes off-message. But, you want to stand out in the crowd. The predominant media choice was trade magazines. Going through them I couldn’t help but notice that all the ads looked alike. A headline, a photo, a description of the piece of equipment and maybe some specs. Pretty dry. I realized that the only thing I could change was the use of color and so that’s where I focused my attention. Over the next few months I incorporated color into the ads. A choice that didn’t go over too well in the beginning. Patience and repetition prevailed. Over time it was easy to recognize our ads. There was no doubt about it. And interestingly enough other things started to change. I was asked to design the control panels for lab equipment. I used color here too and soon our equipment had that spark of freshness and forward-thinking that was missing in the competition. Some time went by and eventually the use of color became a more accepted practise in designing lab equipment. Ask yourself, why should a lab technician have to stare at an uninspiring piece of equipment all day when they could just as well have something that’s pleasing to the eye in the room with them? It was a success story. The brand became strong, sales increased and now a 50-year old company was associated with building a quality product and developing trends.

Update: Great Article – “Color Therapy To Beat Recession Blues”