Designing simple household signage

TL;DR: It really wasn’t that simple after all.

It isn’t always clear whether the dishes in the dishwasher are dirty, or someone just stopped unloading it halfway through. So in my house we use a magnet to stick a sign to the front of the dishwasher if the dishes are clean. This is what that sign once looked like:

Clean written in marker on a dirty envelope.
The writing says “Clean” but the paper is filthy!

I “commissioned” myself to redo this sign, making the first, tiniest inroads into “designing for a purpose”. To get some color inspiration, I found a photo of dishes on Unsplash.

The pink color was my immediate favorite. I tried incorporating the photo into the design itself, but it just seemed too busy, even with the image blurred and in the background.

Here is what I eventually came up with:


I liked the font (Blenny, by Spike Spondike) because the roundness of the letters reminded me of bubbles. So I tried really hard to put bubbles onto this sign. Perhaps the font was so round that more round elements just didn’t look right. I eventually just made the dot on the exclamation point a contrasting color, trying to get it so that the saturation and brightness was not the same as the other colors in the design.

The border was once a lot busier, too. I went from a hand-drawn brush type down to an artist’s pen, which just seemed to work better. Again, maybe the font was so much that the rest of it had to be simpler. I’m at the point where I know what I think works (and especially what doesn’t), but can’t always explain why.

So I made the sign. I could have kept working on it, but I have learned, from other artistic pursuits, that often it’s just better to stop and move on to something else.

At least I got to throw away the dirty envelope.

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