If you ask my family, they’ll tell you that traveling with a designer is hard. It’s one of those life paths that infiltrate everything and you catch yourself looking at EVERYTHING with a designer’s eye. It’s a completely subconscious thing and you often don’t even realized you’re doing it until you catch something that doesn’t look quite right.
Signage can be interesting, street art is a heavy favorite because it is usually wonderful, billboard advertising can have its moments…but, hands down, the absolute worst thing for me are menus.
The first thing I always catch myself doing as I look at the meal choices is proof reading. If there is typo (and there often is), I’ll catch it. Most recent one “Chicken, Shrimp or Stake”. Stake? (Lesson here – don’t just use spell-check – proof as well)
Then I look for style issues – unity of fonts, spacing, etc. So many menus change heading fonts part way through, or have one menu item in a different font from the rest. Some line break in odd places. My personal favorite is the restaurant which line broke their menu so badly that instead of gluten-free and vegetarian options, it had gluten and vegetarian-free options.
So…spell check…proof read…get a second or third person to look it over before you print.
I hear from other designers that I’m not the only one doing this and in the meanwhile my family will continue to ask me to not proof menus when we eat out. Or to at least do it silently in my head. Bon Appetit.