Illu

Illu
: Sometimes, illustrations in print drive me nuts. The urge to prettify a page and break up verbosity often leads to nonsensical or even offensive images. When I got to run a magazine, assigning illustrations was the bane of my existence.

I was reading The Times’ science section today and saw a story about CPR often being improperly administered, causing some patients to lose their lives. Serious, sad stuff.

But the illustration (in the paper only) showed a guy being blown up by an air pump as if a balloon. Yuk, yuk. It was worse than uninformative; it was tasteless and offensive. I’m not sure what I would have done if I’d had the colored ink in my hand. If I were the editor, though, I hope I would have thought twice and thrown that illu in the garbage.

One thing I’ve learned online is that information doesn’t demand to be illustrated. When it’s useful — when the picture tells the story or the graphic explains the facts or the illustration sets the mood — that’s fine. But illustration for illustration’s sake is a waste of ink.

  • michael

    “One thing I’ve learned online is that information doesn’t demand to be illustrated.”
    This is an interesting point. The notion that online information has high(est) value in purely textual form seems to go in the face of most theories of cybermedia (the more “multi” the media the better).