Graphic DesignTypographyUniversityThe good, the bad and the ugly: Freshers

It’s that time of the year again… You can’t walk anywhere without being littered with flyers or posters or plastic bags or sweets or tickets or wristbands etc etc. I’m talking about Freshers week of course!

Now I’m in the last year of my degree, I’ve enjoyed 3 Freshers weeks – some might even say I’m a veteran (no, they really did say that on the street!).  I went to the 2012 Freshers Fayre on Tuesday to pick up some free sweets/coupons and thought that as it’s my last visit I should share some of the amazing/awful design:

I came away with 5 bags of stuff – most of which will be thrown away because it’s rubbish. Don’t worry, I’m going to recycle it but it really made me think about how much paper and ink was going to be wasted. I know it’s the nature of Graphic Design (it’s not like you keep a crisp packet because it’s nicely designed!) but it’s still terrible!

I just want to make it clear that I’m not connected to any of the clubs so I’m not biased in anyway. I am purely judging on the design (my personal taste), not on any experience I’ve had and I’m going to try to not mention club names.

So, the good:

I found only a small portion to be what I would consider ‘good’. In the top right is a variation of a flyer that I blogged about earlier this year. I love Nikki Farquharson’s illustration style and I think the colours work well together despite being primary colours.

In the bottom left corner is a loyalty card with a great collage-y style. In second year I  went to have something to eat at this bar and the menus use the same quirky imagery – they look so cool! I will try and take a sneaky photo next time I go back.

The majority of flyers above are from a hawaiian themed club. I just love the vintage vibe with the pin up girls and tropical colours – they have a distinct style and really do well to carry it through without it being too samey. I find that there is always a lot of space, even though there’s a lot of text – the flyers don’t look shouty and crammed. I absolutely LOVE the postcard style flyer:

… so KITCH!

Now onto the bad:

These are just the selected few I’ve chosen from the massive pile of badly designed flyers and leaflets – there were too many for me to show really. It’s a sea of poorly matched colour themes, loud shouty type and pixelated imagery. What are the main sins these flyers have committed?

I bet that everyone recognises that ‘groovy’ font? Still, that’s no excuse for using a decorative display font for a block of text – eeek! This flyer needs a facelift and Tuesday night HAS looked better I’m afraid.

Where do I begin? Using text over the top of an image without enough contrast – can anyone read how much Sunday’s home from home meal is? What about the Terms & C….. at the bottom? No I didn’t think so! And I don’t know if it’s just me being picky but the tracking looks pretty tight? Also, how many fonts do they want to use – I think I can count 3?

I think they’ve tried to do something clever by slotting Wednesday so it fits snug to 1.99, but I think it just looks awkward. The leading on this flyer is all over the place! They’ve kept with a small colour palette (10 points) but it means that Wednesdays selected food dishes are so faint that you can barely see them, so minus 50 points for legibility.

Oh and saving the best until last, the ugly:

This actually hurts my eyes! Clip art, pixelated imagery, word art text, flames, different coloured text outlines and text shadows. Wow. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they haven’t aligned the printer properly or trimmed the white edge off. People should not be allowed to design flyers on Microsoft Word and expect to be taken seriously!

I hope all of that didn’t sound too harsh? All of that analysing got me thinking: ‘Would I not shop/go somewhere because of poor design?’ It’s weird I guess but yes – it’s my designer eye and for me, it’s all in the details. I especially frown on takeaways for their usually awful design. What do you think? Are you the same as me or does design not affect where you spend your money?


  • thewallflowerexperience

    20/09/2012 at 10:59 pm

    Without having any idea about graphic design, I too feel your pain in looking at Fresher’s flyers…in fact any flyer design for bars/clubs/nights out. Its as if because you are under the age of 25, you have no concept of what is aesthetically pleasing.


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© Natasha Nuttall | February 2020

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