Small Things

Behind every graphic you see, there’s a graphic designer. It’s easy for designers to point to their work when it gets projected in Time Square, but this isn’t the reality for the daily work of most designers.

Most designers sweat over dots and pixels that are seen by only a handful of people for a very short time.


Have you ever picked up a piece of mail and thought, who designed this postage stamp? Stamps are ubiquitous, but they’re incredibly small, and go basically unnoticed.

Yet, each stamp is meticulously designed by someone. One of three art directors, to be precise.

99% Invisible tells about the over year-long process that each stamp design takes from ideation to being licked and stuck in the mail slot.

Somebody might be able to do a great painting that’s 20 x 30 inches, but you take that down to 1 x 1.5 inches, and it’s a challenge to make it work.

– Ethel Kessler, Art Director for USPS Stamp Services

Postage stamps are small, but wouldn’t you hope that the people who design these tiny masterpieces would pour all their skill and care and love into each little design?

Kessler talks about how she puts her heart and soul into each design. “It needs to be just right.”

Banner ads

I work with a team of designers who sweat over a similarly small medium: online banner ads.

A handful of pixels at a time, our small team cranks out thousands of designs each year for nearly as many clients, most of which you’ve probably never heard of (unless you live in place like Estevan or Fort Saskatchewan). Yet each pixel is filled with all of the care and consideration deserving of a 30′-wide billboard.

Similar to creating postage stamps, banner ads are their own kind of underestimated art form that require brevity, focus and precision – both in the message and the conveying of that message in text and visuals.

Banner ads are small, but can they connect with someone? Move them? Entertain? Inspire? Spark an idea? Motivate a person to action?

We like to think so.

Everyday small things

Most of us, on most days, don’t do large, grandiose things. Our daily lives are filled with getting kids ready for school, running to the store for milk and chatting with the person at the checkout.

But can these little acts be filled with connection? Or intention? Even love?

I’d like to think so.