This week a pithy statement of mine has been making the rounds on Twitter: Only when the design fails does it draw attention to itself; when it succeeds, it’s invisible. I first noticed this quoted by Graphis, but when I googled it, to remind myself where and when I had said it, I was amazed to see how many times it’s been quoted and requoted over the past seven years. It even appears as one of “50 Inspirational Quotes on the Art & Science of Design.”
When I wrote this, in a 2007 column for Creativepro.com, I was talking about something very specific: designing the table of contents for a book. But obviously this sentence has struck a chord for many people, and it’s certainly applicable to many aspects of design.
If I ever do a second edition of Hanging by a serif, my small book of aphoristic statements about typography and design, I’ll have to include this one too. I wonder what serif I’ll decide to hang it from?