It’s really starting to grow on me. Perhaps its the outlet I always needed but never gave enough credence to. …. I dunno.
I recently have had people tell me I should preach my message, for lack of a better term, to the public more openly. Some people mentioned a blog. Some said I should get involved in the local scene. ______________________ so that’s what I’m doing.
Right now, some of the best designers are like nomads on the sands and the savannah and the steppes of the visual communication industry. They wander among those seeking direction and those too confident to know it.
^Those are nomadic peoples. Like many of us, they are wanderers – wise in the ways of the foundations of life.
The following is the transcript of a conversation I had recently with another designer about defining design in its relationship to illustration, hand lettering (as a facet of illustration) and the focus of the definition of those things in relation to design.
Illustration is a facet/element of design. Design is what? – Creating or devising a solution for a problem of some kind. To create that solution, you employ various methods (the sum of which are elements) and to those methods you apply techniques and to those techniques you apply principles. If your solution were a wooden box, you would use methods to shape the sides (the elements), couple them together (techniques) and the principles guide how and what techniques are used as well as what the object thus becomes when completed. Your principles dictate the entire process and act as a guide to follow.
Illustration is an element. Design is the box and the process of defining the box.
When you make a mark (on computer, paper, in 3D…) you are using a technique as a method or part of a method to create an element of the design. As art technically has an infinite boundary, we can call what a poster is (for example, such as this) “art”. If you ask professors who focus on modern or post-modern art how you would define art, they would say it is both the process and the outcome. I’m part of a smaller group of people who say that art is really the unintended outcome. … Anyway, when creating art or visual design (graphic arts, in a sense) you utilized the principles and elements of art and design. The principles have to do with Gestalt. Gestalt is, in short, how we see the world (psychology). – I also like to include good composition as a principle/element mix.
Design does not have to include type – although that has been a traditional marker for graphic design. This is also a reason people have expanded the term from graphic design to visual communication design. That’s a term you can’t better take apart to understand the definition. You design and your focus is on visually communicating. This is why type is no longer a default factor as a graphic designer.
So in a bit of a summary so far, art and design principles and elements were utilized in some way shape or form in this poster. But we can’t stop there as a definition. In a way this ties in with my philosophy on art. Design is one half process just like Art is one half process. When this poster was made, it may have been a part of the over all design (as the designer notes in a comment). Design so far = false. This is a part of the overall design. The illustration = an element of the design.
I want to take this a step further (and I’m sure there are many who may disagree): I want to say that even if this could count as the design itself, it still wouldn’t be design. Why? Because the intent is clearly to create a vector city using a specific style. The design part is missing. If you say, “I want to draw an elephant.” And then you proceed to draw and elephant, you haven’t designed anything. You’ve illustrated.
So this, you could say, is art. But it’s not really art either (and this is where people will hate me, I’m sure). Art, as I mentioned, are about the process and the outcome (in my opinion, the unintended outcome). Art is about creation. Creation is about allowing imperfections and allowing life to grow organically in front of you. The more accurate your depiction, the less it’s about the process and the more it’s about allowing the technique to take over and allowing your intent to be driven home. The art develops an “it”. So what if you can recreate a perfect drawing of an elephant? I can take a picture and do the same thing. So what if you can draw a cool looking comic book character? It’s cool to look at for a hot minute – but what’s the point if it doesn’t have a life in it’s meaning or it’s aesthetic? Technique just takes practice. Specifically in design – anyone can be a designer if all it takes is technique. Practice doesn’t make someone an artist or a designer. It’s everything else. It’s the process. Part of the process requires setting parameters. The best art and design is done within parameters. But with both art and design, it’s when you really play with the elements and utilize those gestalt principles that you’re really creating.
And as a matter of further defining my feelings:
I’m tired of things like illustration being called design. I’m tired of people “designing”/recreating trends instead of, you know, solving a problem (like what design does, right?). I’m a crusader for the basic principles and elements of art and design (Gestalt principles) coupled with good composition and ethically and socially responsible design.
The design world doesn’t have to be perfect. But when you have supposed designers imitating what they see on the internet and polishing a technical skill (at best) and then, on top of that, you have art directors eating the shit up – it spreads a disease that’s ruining our industry. I hear designers all the time say “not just anyone can make a logo” – and yet they fail to use any real design methodology outside of what the average person can do (choosing this typeface and I want the logo to look like this and these colors will look great together).
Essentially, the majority of designers out there are being negatively impacted one way or the other (minding you that most of them are younger and fresh out of school). Their paths are being damaged on multiple fronts:
- Their focus is misdirected because of the demand for the wrong qualities of a designer.
- With a combination of designers who are merely mimickers, “cool shit” makers, low ball pricing amateurs and the lack of education on design to the public en masse- any good design existing out there in the nomadic world of unemployed designers and freelancers is drifting farther and farther away from civilization.
- In turn, anyone can feel like they can do the job of a visual designer just as well as a professional. Already more and more do each day. All you have to have is an Adobe program and you’re set, apparently. And in this currently climate and the way it’s heading – they’re not wrong in assuming so.
Soon eventually design will just be what looks aesthetically pleasing. And what looks aesthetically pleasing will be defined by whatever the everyday person turned designer can stand back and say, “Yeah. That’s not bad.” to. And a profession can slowly die. … A profession, mind you, that is not only one of the most expendable and unimportant – but also one of the most important in the world today. Because sure, it’s just graphics. It’s just visual and what’s around us. – But it’s also what’s visual and what’s around us. It’s the most basic form of communication we have. And when everyone thinks they know how to do it best – then no one knows how to do it best.