Memorial Ideas – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I’ve seen some really bad memorial ideas over the last few years.  I’ve also been inspired by some really wonderful memorial ideas.  So what makes the difference?  Is it just me, or are the bad ones really bad for a reason, and likewise, are the really good ones good for a reason?

Today, I’m going to address this question squarely by providing what I use as my ‘template for success’ when it comes to finding the best in memorial ideas, and seeing them manifest into a finished project.  I’m open to comment, so let me know what you like and don’t like about my ‘template’…, here goes.


Civic Center Plaza Public Safety Monument, San Leandro, California.

My template is framed in asking three very defined questions.  These questions help guide the client to reach the best possible outcome of their several memorial ideas.  The questions are simple, yet profound.  I have found over the years that it is the tendency for most people or organizations who have commissioned a memorial or monument, to rush through the most critical part of the entire process, the beginning.  A wise person once said, ‘he who begins with the end in mind will be pleased when he finally arrives there’.

#1 – What is the purpose? Memorials and monuments serve many different purposes.  The key with answering this question is to determine just what the purpose is for your project.  Is the purpose educational, inspirational, motivational, functional or purely aesthetic?  Or is your purpose something else?  I suggest you and your committee spend some quality time discussing this question.



#2 – What emotions do you want to capture? Capturing emotions can be a tricky business.  They are often elusive, fleeting, and just hard to pin down.  But, I promise you, the more time you and your committee spend discussing this question, will be time well spent and will be reflected in the overall reaction to your project for years to come.  So, do the emotions you wish to capture look like any of these; patriotism, pride is a cause, support for a cause, reverence, respect, sorrow for an event, honor for the dead, honor for the living, freedom, liberty, responsibility.

#3 – Who is the audience that will be affected and influenced? Like defining the emotions in question number two, identifying your audience can be a challenge too.  At first take, it may seem to you and your committee that this is not even a worthy question to be discussing.  You may feel that ‘everyone knows who the audience is…’   So, to your audience…, are they middle age adults, single college age students, youth, or perhaps the well seasoned senior citizens?  Are they females or males?  If you determine your audience to be everyone, it will appeal passionately to no one.  You must identify your core audience.

These three questions, and their thoughtful answers, are ones that a professional designer would be sure to consider before proceeding with any monument or memorial project, you should too…

Memorial ideas can be really bad, or really good.  Start with the end in mind, using my template for success, and you will be pleased with the final outcome.

Onward & Upward…

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