I go to the Mary Ward Centre once a week to print textiles. The centre, teaching staff, and courses are wonderful.
What I find difficult to stomach is the wide variety of notices telling you what to do. And more to the point, what not to do.
For a college where arts and graphics are a key part of the offer the wide variety of fonts is meaningless and messy. The widespread use of CAPITAL LETTERS and underling is unpleasant and shouty. The laminator has been in service – “Use the laminator Sue – our notices need protecting from rain, snow, fabric paint and anything else the darn students throw at them” But the use of Clip Art when they teach several courses on Photoshop and photography is frankly disappointing.
I did make a little “joke” about all the messages you have to read before you get down to some seriously creative work. And some of the more outrageous ones seem to have been removed. But dozens remain, attached to every surface.
Here are some more. I have a further seven or eight to show you, I am getting weary too. What kind of impression do these notices give? That the students are stupid, don’t know how to stack chairs, insist of putting things down the toilet or into the wrong bins, and cannot be trusted to use the equipment without direct supervision.
When we get dressed in the morning we think about the first impression we might give to people who we meet.
Notices similarly make an important impression on people who enter our buildings. Only homes with very large numbers of children have notices (Have YOU Washed Your Cup?? Don’t forget to take your shoes off! No MUD in the BATHROOM). Notices are, by their nature, institutional and unfriendly. Some people think that nailing a “NO BALL GAMES” notice to the wall actually prevents residents from playing football, but in my experience (25 years in housing management) it has the opposite effect. It actually gives you the idea of playing ball games. Child psychologists warn that saying “Don’t fall!” will prompt an image in the mind of falling. Better to say “Hold on tight!”
My personal view about notices (and I try to prevent them at work) is
- Have a notice board or specific areas for written communication
- Adopt an attractive, consistent house style that looks professional. Visitors will use your toilets, lifts etc. Give them a good impression
- Avoid clip-art and any tacky graphics, underlining and capital letters
- Minimise the number to the absolutely essential
- Check every few months that they are not out of date
- Adopt a warm and friendly voice, and try to adopt a positive approach if possible
- Talk to your staff rather than writing messages to them
I am thinking of using these notices in my next art project.