Monday, June 22, 2009

One More Comment On Design and Keeping It Simple

Lately, design has become my biggest pet peeve. This is mainly because of the fact that in lieu of actually putting out a set that features nicely thought out cards, manufacturers are instead just packing in all the swatches they can. Its gotten bad, really fucking bad. For example, we saw with Prestige and Prestige Chrome that Donini just recycled designs and added more busy design elements to draw our eyes away from the fact that the set was essentially the same as last year. The same thing has happened with a lot of different sets, mostly in previews for upcoming products like Absolute, LCM, and a few others.

In fact, I was just looking over the previews again for Bowman Sterling, and I couldn’t help but think ahead to how awful those designs will look on an actual card. Those lines criss-crossing all over the background is not going to help things, even though the player is much larger than on other products. See, it seems to me that elegant simplicity has been forgotten so that some amateur photoshopper can prove their chops in making grossly overstated cards with crazy lines and needless off-colored backgrounds.

The reason products like SPA have been so successful and widely supported by many card gurus is because cards like the patch autos never blast your eyes like you see in many other products. More proof: in LCM, Donini packs 4 separate swatches on some of the cards, as well as a sticker, all in addition to the crazy foilboard background you see. Why is this necessary?

Its time to set down the adobe stylus and let the photography speak for itself. No more disruptive crap on my cards, no more floating swatches, no more ridiculous color schemes, no more tiny player pictures. If you cant fit most of the player onto a card, you shouldn’t be releasing that design. We used to buy cards to see the players, not the 35 jersey pieces you can stuff onto a foldout card.

I will admit, that over the course of my design ranting, I have questioned if it is just my tastes that wretch at the complicated designs of recent Donini and Topps high end. Then I asked a few outsiders, who have never looked at cards before, and they could not believe that people liked some of the recent designs. One of the people I spoke with, a PR rep for a very prestigious car company, said that if he were running his car ads like the manufacturers were running their product designs, he would lose his job. He said that a few years ago, the good car companies started to shy away from packing shit into an ad, as well as overstating their designs. This helped out tremendously, and he was much more proud of the final product. The companies who didn’t follow suit have had many more problems generating revenue from their ads - moreso with the recession now. He confirmed that elegant simplicity is the way to go, and that I was not certifiable for saying the product designs looked awful. Lastly, he said the foilboard needs to be destroyed. I agree 100%.

I know translating the car industry to the sports card hobby isnt too great an analogy, but I do feel that there are way too many mistakes being made in terms of designing products. The bottom line is that we shouldn’t need to settle for crap, because that is no doubt what is being fed to us. They may say it is filet mignon, but its easy to see when dog food is on the plate. You can bet there will be many more rants coming down the pipeline, as there should be no shortage of fucking gross ideas as long as Donini keeps it up, and Topps takes no warning. I mean, we still havent seen anything on Triple Threads football, right?


  1. Picking which cards to collect is easier then ever. Just stop buying the poorly designed crap and you're left with a handful of great cards. It never ceases to amaze me just what sells. I think more and more people are buying the patch or auto or name and not the actual card.

  2. I think you nailed a lot of it. Essentially they are substituting hits, a lot of which are junk, for quality. To outdo last year they try to pack more and more autos/swatches/whatever onto a card. Design is non-existent.

    I disagree with the photoshoppers comment, though. If anything these folks are professional photoshoppers, which makes this all the worse. The amateur photoshoppers like PRP and Goose Joak put these people to shame.

  3. I agree. As a graphic designer myself, I pay a lof of attention to the design of cards and most of today's crap just looks awful in my opinion. I find that a lot of the time I will not buy cards of players I really want because the card is so damn ugly. Most are just so over-designed Just simplify things. No need to fill the design with "bells and whistles"...don't be afraid of the white space.