3 Reasons To Pick Up David Crow’s Visible Signs

3 May

1. Thought Provoking Content
In visual signs Crow analyzes semiotics (the science of signs and symbols). I hesitate to even mention the word text book, as Crow’s work does not visually appear like a text book, nor read like one, however, it contains as much if not more relevant information about semiotics as any introductory text book would. Crow includes and discuss several contemporary visual symbols and artworks to reinforce the theories and ideas presented. He even utilizes culturally significant quotes and phrases to emphasize his conclusions. Crows excellent use of pop culture helps to make the content rich text easily readable and memorable.

2. Out of the Box Layout Design
The layout of Visible Signs is truly notable and worth studying simply for its design, let alone content. The layout is somewhat sporadic or chaotic, yet still delicate sense of organization to each page. The work is reminiscent of a scrapbook with images plastered throughout and large blocks of callout information containing pop culture references. This technique lends itself well to younger generation’s attention spans and the shift in the way that they prefer to consume content.

This also lends it self well to the subject matter. As the book is, in fact, about visible signs, the visual presentation is of utmost importance. Negative space, text breaks, placement, alignment, and proximity of elements on the page all have meaning and in many cases relate directly to the corresponding text on the page. Though there is extensive visual variation from page to page to keep the reader excited and intrigued, the whole book is undeniably successful at feeling like one congruent work.

3. It’s Interactive
What better way to teach a visual science than to engage the audience and let them contribute to the visual creation. Though this is a seemingly simple concept it is wildly innovative for a large informational text. Crow’s Visible Signs is not just design for design’s sake, and was not simply meant to be observed and consumed. It is intended to be altered, enhanced, maybe even defiled. To perpetuate the scrapbook feel, the book begins with a page of sticker that can be used to customize the cover and/or interior of the book. Additionally, there are notebook paper-like rules on most pages almost daring readers to scribble down notes, thoughts, or doodles at there own free will. While interacting the the book in this way is certainly fun and possibly unconventional, all the while it is giving readers first hand experience in the practice of semiotics.

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2 Responses to “3 Reasons To Pick Up David Crow’s Visible Signs”

  1. Beth Harper May 11, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    I actually had to buy this book for Visual and Verbal Rhetoric last summer and was quite intrigued with it! Unfortunately, it wasn’t used to much in class and due to the rich (and sometimes) confusing content I thought about selling it back but figured it would make a nice addition to my library and had a feeling I would want to read it further in depth at a later date…thanks to your post (and the end of a long semester) that date has come! I can’t wait to give Crow another go!

  2. jessamynmcbrian May 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I LOVE this book! I bought it for VVR and have actually referred to it for design classes as well as, numerous times, research on visual symbols (current project). One complaint I have, however, which might effect whether or not I would recommend it to someone else is its layout – I find it really, really hard to read – with teeny tiny type (and I have 20/20 vision) and I am not terribly fond of the layout. Still, the content is somewhat worth it. Jessamyn

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