Lose the color! Jeff Finley from GoMedia on B&W

Mon, Nov 3, 2008


Lose the color! Jeff Finley from GoMedia on B&W

In line with the “lose the color!” series that is running on Designfeedr at the moment I’ve done a little Q and A with Jeff Finley from GoMedia.

GoMedia started up in early 2003 by William Beachy and was joined by Jeff Finley in 2005. With clients ranging from Pepsi to Thrustkill records, the respected Arsenal vector packs and a massively popular online magazine GoMedia is doing everything right. Add to that the fact that GoMedia has a reputation for churning out excellent black-and-white designs/illustrations and their presence in “the lose the color!” series is more that justified.

On to the questions then, as always the comments are at your disposal to discuss the topic and let me know how you feel. Enjoy!

1. What are the benefits of choosing black-and-white compared to going color?
Sometimes, Black and White images leave the viewer with a sense of anticipation. It might not appear finished, so they can imagine what a finished piece would look like. Often times coloring your black and white drawing can ruin it. It’s a fine line. Almost always a black and white drawing, if done well, is going to impress. Whereas color can make or break your art. I know a lot of designers struggle when it comes time to color their line art.

Chris Comella
Top: Take note of the excellent line work and use of contrast. Image by respected Go Media designer Chris Comella.

2. Does going black-and-white make things easier or more challenging from a design standpoint?
It depends, it can make it easier because it’s one less thing to worry about. But it makes it harder because you don’t have values of color to help distinguish different forms. You lose the ability to separate objects by color. It’s all done with contrast, line weight, etc. It’s a hard skill to master.

Monster Music by Go Media

3. Is there a particular type of client that has a habit of asking for black-and-white or near monochrome work?
I haven’t found one personally. What I did find out is that when a client wants you to do design for posters that will be photocopied and distributed around town, solid black-and-white is the way to go.

4. Is there any time when you’d advise not to go with black-and-white?
This is a case by case basis. There aren’t really any rules that say don’t use black and white unless of course the medium doesn’t allow for it. I think the client and the medium are the most important factors when decided whether to stick with black-and-white or go with color. What is the budget? What does the client expect? What is the final product going to look like? However, if the choice between black and white or color is purely a creative decision, then it’s up to you. Grayscale photography has a classical feel to it, it tends to be more “artsy” so to speak. It helps create a mood.

Bridge and tunnel

“For the Bridge and Tunnel shirt black and white was a conscious decision, mostly to save on printing costs. It’s a lot cheaper to print one color shirts, especially on white. The look I was going for was a handmade line art collage printed very big on the shirt, so it worked out well.” - Jeff Finley

5. What’s the general reaction you get from clients when you suggest
black-and-white? Is it hard to bend the opinion of a client who’s bent on full-color to going with black-and-white if it suits the project/medium better?

The client who is dead-set on color, will usually feel black and white is “boring”
and they somehow feel they’re not getting enough bang for their buck. Sometimes
black and white art looks unfinished. If it’s a logo, a client might not be able to
visualize all the various uses their logo if they first see it in black and white
only. If you insist on the project being black and white only, just describe how it
suits the project better. It can save them on printing costs too.

Hindu by Go Media

6. Can you give 3 tips for someone who want’s to start doing more black-and-white work?

1. Improve the quality of your lines. Using a single color to describe form and
space is a tough skill to master.

2. Try using halftones to simulate gradients.

3. Sometimes you’ll need to do color versions to “sell” your black and white concept to a client.

Paint the Stars

“I had plans to color the Paint the Stars tee but I couldn’t come up with anything I liked. In the end I left it black-and-white. I think it’s better for it. And can be more efficient when printing it huge on a t-shirt.” - Jeff Finley

Thanks for your time Jeff. Best of luck to both you and GoMedia! Below are a bunch of links that lead to more Go Media goodness!

Go Media portfolio
Arsenal vector packs
Go Media Twitter

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This post was written by:

Youri - who has written 51 posts on designfeedr.

I'm a Web designer, blogger, import magazine addict, Junko Mizuno fan(hence the avatar!) and hardcore gamer turned casual. Other than blogging on Designfeedr I also run Tutorials we heart - the site that collects the best tutorials from all over the web.

10 Comments For This Post

  1. William DuBois Says:

    GoMedia is always inspiring when it comes to utilizing both color and black and white. I love the above examples, keep up the great work Jeff.

  2. Max Says:

    Some great tips and great interview with jeff, an intresting read.

  3. David Sparks Says:

    I definitely love doing all B&W art. I havent had a chance to do much anymore but when i was doing t-shirt designs often i loved it.

  4. liam Says:

    Very nice tips, and I really like black and white, although I would say there are a lot of things which people make black and white when its not needed, and don’t do a very good job of it. These examples are brilliant though, there seems to be great balance to them!

  5. Says:

    Very interesting article, I’m a big fan of B&W, no doubt that’s why my avatar is in B&W..Great interview though!

  6. creativedge - logo design Says:

    Really like these, great post :-)

  7. creativedge - logo design Says:

    great post, really like these

  8. Says:

    very interesting post…with lots of great tips! thank you !!

  9. Fabrice Says:

    very interesting post.. with lots of great tips .. thank you !!

  10. Dan Says:

    Thanks! Black and White is great and sorely underused.

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