Plain and Simple

They couldn’t be any more unlike.

Plain is easy. Anybody can do plain. It’s why templates exist. Templates allow amateur designers to seem as if they know what they’re doing. But all templates are plain, so to the trained eye, you still look like an amateur.

Plain is ketchup on scrambled eggs, Helvetica, polo shirts. Plain is the Shinji Ikari of design thinking. Plain means you’re afraid of standing out, being seen. Plain means you don’t understand the art of what you’re doing.

You choose simple when you do understand the art. Simple is the choice you make when you’ve seen hundreds of fonts, but you’re picking this one because you know it’s the only font that’ll work. Simple isn’t minimalism for the hell of it. Simple is nothing more than an understanding of the art form, and an attitude to follow or break the rules when necessary.

These are some of my favorite book covers. Do they look plain to you?

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