Lorem Ipsum as Chipotle Art

Lorem Ipsum as Chipotle Art

Amy and I recently went to Chipotle for lunch and happened to be served our takeaway meals in a big paper bag with—lo and behold—lorem ipsum dummy text on the side. Unlike some have supposed, it was definitely “designed,” looking for all the world like carefully-careless, hand-drawn text. The bag includes the first few lines of the classic dummy text used for centuries to mock up layouts by printers, ad men and designers.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolor magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat! Duis aute irur dolor. (emphasis Chipotle’s, apparently for purely compositional reasons)

This made an immediate connection with us, since of course we’ve used the text dozens of times in layout after layout. The principle behind using lorem ipsum in layout is that it is often distracting to a client or art director to have real copy in the layout. They can’t evaluate the layout because their eyes are being snagged by things they’d like to change about the actual text. By removing meaningful content from the text, but still giving a realistic impression of words, sentences and paragraphs, the designer can get a more accurate reaction from the client to the layout on its own.

Of course, lorem ipsum does NOT actually epitomize the lack of meaningful content: it means something, and its meaning is really pretty heavy. Too heavy for the side of a Chipotle bag? Well, it depends on your perspective.

According to lipsum.com, this is how that chunk of Latin translates—approximately, since “lorem ipsum” actually starts in the middle of a word, and the traditional layout passage is a bit scrambled to boot.

But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?

1914 translation by H. Rackham of Section 1.10.32 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum”, written by Cicero in 45 BC

For all its ancientness, this chunk of writing has a lot of relevance to us today. It just details the idea that sometimes you have to work hard to get what you want. As the inimitable Ann Landers put it,

Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.

This lorem ipsum sighting is pretty much the American dream, written cryptically on the side of a burrito bag, meant to pique the interest of designers and the uninitiated alike, get us talking, and of course get us eating more burritos. Consider that the original author was a guy whose name means “garbanzo bean,” and that this is likely because his family was in the bean industry (rather than the popular story that his nose looked like the puffy little legume itself). It’s easy to assume that Marcus Tullius Cicero understood the pleasure of eating a beany meal as well as the pain that can often ensue!

18 Nov 2010, Posted by brittany in Studio News, No Comments. Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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