Kerning my itch

At 8:10 I’m making my way from London Bridge to Old Street and it’s  a tedious undertaking. Staring blankly into space or reading another depressing tale of woe in the paper, inevitably my eyes wander and focus  on the printed adverts dotted around the carriage. There’s a good selection today, a holiday ad (killer abs and some cracking coconuts), a nodding  dog selling insurance (named after a well known British prime minister)  and yet another promotion that uses the tube lines to illustrate something (this time a delivery van) to name but a few.

As if a chip was embedded in my brain, my OCD enhanced vision kicks  in and picks out potential design indiscretions: bad idea, severe lack  of creativity, too much information, text not aligned, stretched image, bad kerning… the list goes on.

I’m not saying that my OCD stretches to turning the lights on and off 15 times or dodging cracks in the pavement but if it’s not a right angle, it’s a wrong angle.

How some of these mistakes are missed and go uncorrected is mind-boggling. The numerous times I’ve mentioned this to my girlfriend on a night out, I get an understanding nod in response. However I know what she’s really thinking is “I don’t see anything wrong with it”. Maybe these are issues for the informed — like first world issues but for creative types.

It takes its toll I guess, because the ’curse’ of the artworker is fixing layouts and making sure everything falls within the grid and is perfectly aligned. This filters into other aspects of life and a quick look at my sock draw emphasises this (see fig 1).

At least looking out for the crazy kerning passes the time and as I get off the tube, the announcement says ‘Mind the Gap’… how ironic.


Ben Pawson

Senior Artworker


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“I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.” Blaise Pascal (1657)