Review: Wordless Diagrams by Nigel Holmes

I’ve been a fan of the work of designer Nigel Holmes, the former Graphics Director for Time magazine and principal of the firm Explanation Graphics, for many years. His 1985 book Designing Pictorial Symbols was very helpful in teaching me, early in my career, to distill concepts down to their simplest forms.

With his newest book, Wordless Diagrams from Bloomsbury Publishing, Holmes continues the entertaining form of education for which he is known through his publications and public speaking engagements. While not directly related to the practice of identity design, this volume is an excellent creative concepting tool for any designer interested in the creation of logos. Actually, any designer could benefit from the included lessons – and have a few chuckles in the process.

The book reinforces the old K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle of design I learned in college three decades ago. In simple graphic forms, chronologically numbered for ease of use, Holmes clearly illustrates nearly 100 tasks such as how to wave like a Royal, how to make a snowman, how to pierce a tongue, and how to cremate a body. In addition, readers will also learn how to milk a cow, pour a beer and keep a low-cut dress in place as they are taken on this wordless, visual adventure. “How to train for and then eat 53 1/2 hot dogs” immediately reminded me of the lesson in simplicity, visually and verbally conveyed by Holmes, in a past HOW Design Conference presentation: “Always line up your sausages.”

Note: This review originally appeared in a Logo Notions column on the design industry site Creative Latitude.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

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