Monday 6/18: Design Statement for Eye Charting

I want my valentine to evoke the experience of getting glasses for the first time. I didn’t get them until I was five years old, and I’d never really been aware of a world in which everything was sharp and clear. Trees were blobs on sticks, flowers were more colorful blobs on thinner sticks. When I walked out of the optometrist’s office wearing glasses for the first time, it was like gaining a superpower: trees had leaves and flowers had petals. It was as though I was looking at my hand and seeing each individual cell, along with the hand as a whole.

So, while trying to evoke that sense of wonder, I’ve been struggling with the wording for my eye chart. The line I used for my first mock-up wasn’t bad, but I’m not crazy about it. It doesn’t really seem like a valentine to me; more of a statement:

I love flowers. I never knew you could see petals from far away until I got my first pair of glasses.

I went through a few versions of this in my notebook, trying to chart out the arrangement of letters in my notebook.

I love flowers. Until I was five, I thought you had to be close to the flower to see its petals.

I am myopic, and I didn’t understand that flower petals were supposed to be visible from a distance until I got glasses.

My first glasses gave me superpowers. And flower petals.

My first glasses gave me flowers and leaves.

My first glasses gave me flowers, with petals.

I knew I liked the imagery of my glasses giving me flowers, so I finally decided on this:

My first glasses gave me flower petals for the first time.

This whole process has reminded me of the scenes from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in which Harry learns to conjure a patronus. (They’re much better in the books than in the movie—Harry struggles with it much more—but I don’t have a copy with me, alas.)

The patronus is a happy memory made corporeal through a charm. As Professor Lupin explains, you have to have absolute focus on an adequately strong happy memory in order to conjure one. This seems reminiscent of what we discussed in class on Thursday: if you design from a place of wonder, that sense of wonder is likely to be present in the final product.

I spent two hours after class playing with the letterforms in Illustrator and tweaking the wording further. I decided on Rockwell for the font, and started experimenting with putting the text in the appropriate format for an eye chart.

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