I’ve been out of school for a little over a year now, and the thing I miss the most, besides being able to sleep past 11:00 on weekdays, is the random things I would learn. Not just the big ideas, but the trivial observations that hide in plain site until a professor unmasks them. This is the story of one of those observations: the arrow in the Fed Ex logo.
Many people have seen the arrow in the Fed Ex logo (it’s the lower half of the “e” and left half of the “x” in “Ex”), but I was ignorant. Then, one cold December day in an old public school-turned art studio, I saw the light.
“Did you know that there’s an arrow in the Fed Ex logo?” my graphic design professor, Cynthia, asked. She pointed it out to the class, most of whom didn’t look as dumbfounded as I felt. It was a good example of typeface design, she said. A graphic designer shaped each letter and deliberately placed them to create the logo with the hidden arrow.
In that moment, I felt like I could see the inner workings of the universe. I assume this is what people feel like when they have a religious revelation, or when they take DMT and start seeing the machine elves in the walls of reality.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but I was enlightened. Some people look for evidence of God’s will in everyday life, but what about human will? Fed Ex seems like an inhuman monstrosity, but it’s composed of people. A machine didn’t design that logo, a person did.
In that moment, things made sense; the logo wasn’t an arbitrary creation forced on the unwashed masses, it was someone’s design. Given the complexity of today’s world, it’s rare for things to be that simple.
The world is a big, confusing, scary place. Usually, confusion and fear go hand in hand. When we don’t know why something is happening, we fear what could happen. That’s why it is so important to hang onto every kernel of information we can find. The more things make sense, the better off we are.