How to make a meme

Most people use “meme” to describe those pictures you see on Facebook and elsewhere. Like this:

David Tennant Doctor Ten Writing

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:

writer.ly writing quote David Beaty

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.

Grunge Fabric 4

The original seemed too bright, so I put a layer of gray behind it and lowered the opacity a little.Screen Shot 1

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.

Screen Shot 2

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.

Not clean yet

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.

About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

6 comments on “How to make a meme

  1. It surprised me, it was special and made my day. Thank you!

  2. How cool! I shall have fun playing with this idea. And then I shall clean my house.
    But not this day.

  3. I was actually just talking to my hubby a day or two ago about how I wanted to start doing this, but not really knowing where to start! THANK YOU, this is awesome!

  4. Good info, thanks! And BTW I’ totally keeping the good Doctor to give me inspiration….

  5. […] How to make a meme (newauthors.wordpress.com) […]

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