The Fourth Wall


When we asked our clients, friends, and families to tell us the meaning of the phrase “the fourth wall,”(1) the answers (2) we received were funny, hopeful, smart-alecky, and above all mostly wrong. Every last (except one!) of ‘em… wrong wrong wrong. From this highly sophisticated market survey of a random (but nice, we love you guys!) focus group, we have surmised that TFW is either:

  1. A very good name for a blog or,
  2. A very bad name for a blog.

Time will surely tell. But until we sort that little problem out, let us explain what on earth we are really up to. In a word, we are known professionally as “creatives” and in particular as graphic designers. What this currently might mean to you is anyone’s guess. Here are some possible examples:

  1. We own a lot of very nice fonts and can sometimes even pick the right one for your project.
  2. We wear lots of black clothing and not because we have an ironic nostalgia for the 80’s. Ok, well, some of us do.
  3. We don’t understand why you can’t just pull out your spectacles to read the type on our design comps.

These things aside, the fact is, dear consumers (3) of graphic design, we are more than the sum of our fonts, so very much more. And because you interact with us and our work daily–indeed many of you find yourselves parting with your own or your organization’s hard-earned cash in order to procure our fine products and services–we thought you might like to know us and our work at a deeper level.

Why? Well, because we see things differently; we’re schooled to observe the world and to process information in very unique ways… and the seeing impacts our thinking. Or, vice versa. Something like that. Anyway, we believe that this seeing/thinking business is really pretty cool and worth sharing. For one thing, it’s entertaining as heck, but also, we believe that educating, or at least entertaining our clients and would-be clients will lead to more good design, and more good design will improve the world and the quality of life for those who live in it. Intrigued? Don’t believe us for a second? Want more?

Then, WELCOME! It’s time to break that fourth wall.

NOTES, DEFINITIONS, SUPPORTING ARGUMENTS & and other material that didn’t fit into a screen’s worth of text.

(1) The Fourth Wall

An imagined boundary between viewer and audience, the fourth wall is a term with origins in theater, referrring to an audience’s suspension of disbelief while watching a fictional drama unfold. Breaking the fourth wall (a technique attributed to Berthold Brecht) generally refers to a character on the stage, in film, or on TV, who demonstrates his awareness of the audience by addressing them directly.

(2) (A few of) The Survey Answers

it is not what the fourth wall is. It is what it is not. it is not the 1st wall or the 2nd wall and most important of all it is not the 3rd Wall

Do you mean like the Great Wall of China, Wailing Wall, Vietnam Memorial, and then…Don’t know a fourth. Maybe there needs to be one?????

well, when i think of a fourth wall i think of the last wall in a room that doesn’t have anything on it and usually ends up getting painted a bright color to balace the room out…??

where the colour is.
the magic door.
books galore.
a cup of coffee.

the Fourth Wall is…. that’s the wall is behind you when you are in a room. You can’t see it very well, it’s just there. Walls one, two and three can be seen quite well

I actually have no clue but I am picturing some kind of massive brick
wall is some deep dark land where the sky seems to have a green tint.

What the heck is the fourth wall? Never heard of it, don’t even know what you mean by it!

(3) Consumer of graphic design
Did you drink a very sophisticated cup of coffee made by a ubiquitous company that shall remain nameless anytime recently? Lick a stamp? Shop at Target? Then… SURPRISE! You too are a consumer of graphic design and we welcome you to our blog.