that voice in my head

You know how there’s this voice in your head that sometimes says things like “GO back into the house right now and put on a slip!” or “SMILE at the grouchy waiter—he’s having a bad day”. . .? That voice of instruction/barometer of appropriateness, your own internal dialogue of “thou shalts” . . . your mom’s voice?*

Well, I hear the mom voice, too, of course. Who doesn’t? But when it comes to design, I hear an altogether different voice: that of Robin Williams. (Yes, THE Robin Williams,** and, no, not the actor!)

mermaidI had the good fortune to take a class on typography from Robin in 1997 and have not been the same since. (For lots of reasons, which I’d love to talk about, including the fact that she’s now a very dear friend, but because I’m under deadline and not really supposed to be doing anything but layout, I’ll have to elaborate later.)

One of Robin’s better known maxims regarding design—one that has appeared in her design books—is “Don’t be a wimp.” I hear that one quite often.

But the phrase I hear at least once a day is something Robin said repeatedly in class: “Trust your eyes . . . . You know what you’re doing. Just look!” Many, many times over the past 12 years, that reassuring call to be present and trust myself has helped me over a creative hurdle and on to the next challenge.

OK. As Robin often says, “Anon!” Back to layout!

More about Robin later. . .




*We included one of Mothering publisher and editor-in-chief Peggy O’Mara’s bits of wisdom along these lines in our 2009 calendar: “The way we talk to our children becomes the inner voice they hear.” (Kind of makes you think twice, doesn’t it?)

**Macintosh computer users around the world practically worship Robin for her witty, easy-to-understand tomes on all things Mac, but she’s also written brilliant books on design, typography, font management, podcasting, web design, and . . . and an in-depth look at a surprising candidate for the authorship of the works of William Shakespeare.

Image scanned from one of Robin’s 50+ books, Beyond the Mac Is Not a Typewriter (1996). Part of what I love about Robin’s books—besides the fun, sassy tone—is the wackiness of the examples she uses. Who knew learning could be such silly fun?


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