Most people use “meme” to describe those pictures you see on Facebook and elsewhere. Like this:
Really, “meme” describes the idea, not the image. A “meme” can also be a behavior. But for purposes of this discussion, I’ll go ahead and use meme in its graphical sense.
Memes seem to get passed around more than mere quotes partly because the mechanisms at Facebook and Google+ make it so easy, but also because images get noticed. Marketers are starting to catch on that memes are marketing tools — if you remember to stick your website on them. Writer.ly, a new market for freelancers, has a ton of ‘em. It’s worth following them on Facebook just for wisdom like this:
I wish I were clever enough to think up meme-worthy quotes. But so far, I’ve only memed quotes from others. For example, J.L. Mbewe one day said “I need a meme that says: fear not! One day this house will be clean, but it is not this day!”
OK, one meme coming up.
First, find a graphic. I like stock.xchng for this, because it’s free. Import the graphic into a photo editor. I use Pixelmator, but there are free web-based apps you can use instead: Pixlr and Picmonkey have gotten some good reviews.
For J.L.’s meme, I wanted to play off the “not clean yet” theme of the quote, so I picked something a little grungy.
Next, pick a font. I actually used two, but they have similar characteristics: The swirly lines all around. I wanted something grungy, yet girly, because the font also needs to reflect the theme. The headline font is called Orial, and the rest is Vkts Merceria. Both are from dafont.com. Two other great sources for free fonts are Font Squirrel and Urban Fonts.
You want to set the font pretty big, and you want a high contrast between the foreground and the background. If you look at the color wheel, yellow is opposite purple. So a light yellow color gives contrast while providing a complementary color.
To add J.L.’s website, though, I picked a lighter version of the background color and a really plain font. That prevents it from distracting from the main attraction, without being so unobtrusive you miss it.
In all, I spent about half an hour on this, and part of that was just finding the right background graphic. I had fun. Every time I’m able to put the old graphic design skills to use — like right now — I feel as if it gives that season of my life a little more meaning.