Design Strategy: Stick with the classic look

When you design something, there are two ways to do it. You can go big, and invest your whole heart and soul into it, and try something completely new. When you do this,  you pour time, money, and passion into the endeavor and hope it pays off. Big design is risky. You take chances, and if your do it right, and create something special, the world will love you.

The other approach is to stay with the classics. It took me a long time to learn this.

My first lesson was Halloween. Every year, Halloween at the Shoemate house brings performance anxiety. I get my knife out and I stare at the blank face of the pumpkin. I know that a REAL artist would go big and fancy. By the end of the night a real artist would carve this pumpkin into some kind of 3d masterpiece that would give neighbor kids nightmares and go viral on the internet. And if I took my time, planned it out, refined the design, thought it through, I could, and have, pull off something awesome. But the truth is, I didn’t plan, and I don’t have time to go big. I still don’t even have my costume picked out.


So if you can’t go big, if you lack the time, skill, or energy to do it right. Then fall back on the classics.

  • Triangle eyes, square notch at the bottom for pupils.
  • Triangle nose.
  • Square toothed smile.

Simple. Fast. Easy. Classic. The classic jack-o-lantern works.

Getting dressed up for a wedding? Black suit, black tie, white shirt – classic.

Making content for a website? Don’t have time to make a fancy info-graphic? That’s ok. Headers, bulleted lists, simple images. Classic.

The classic is a classic for a reason: It works. It’s not boring, you won’t look bad, you don’t need an excuse and if anything, it makes a bolder statement.

Picasso often said: color weakens. So he used just black and white. If you use color, do it deliberately. Boldly. No grey. If you want black – go black. Know what you want and do it.


By the way: Picasso Black and White on exhibit at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts