I came across David Crow’s, “Magic Box: Craft and Computer,” recently and it inspired an interesting topic, the poor relation between art and design, that has been a primary struggle for aspiring graphic designers today. For those who aren’t familiar with graphic design it is a creative process that combines art and technology to communicate ideas. Designers create, choose and organize elements such as typography, images and white space to communicate a message. And every artistic practice has a past.
Before the age of technology, everything was done by hand. And the hand is an important metaphorical symbol for the presence of individuality (Crow). It is the primary tool for human creation. Earlier movements such as the Renaissance introduced status to artisans, the skill and craftsmanship of their work set a premise for what we define as “quality” work. Their “hand” left a mark on history. But in the age of the machine, there was less and less place for the hand.
I believe, in new designers, it is common to develop a dependence upon digital tools such as the computer to produce their work. The computer is a new way of thinking and it becomes too easy to not think past that. In Crow’s text, he explains that, “some educators worry that students will do what predetermined tools make easy… it gives us what Van Blokland calls the ‘illusion of completeness’- the idea that anything can be achieved using dropdown menu and toolbox sidebar.” With programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, the primary programs used in graphic design, in taking advantage of programs such as this your work becomes soulless.
Working on the computer can lack individualism or spontaneity because of this reliance to digital art programs, hence the need for the “hand” to become a dominating presence once more in our history. Graphic design today needs to bear the mark of its maker. There is a common saying in the design world which is the “What if” question. As designers we need to learn how to surprise ourselves, otherwise our work can get repetitive and you will never engage with your audience. So this “what if” question comes into play as tool to experiment with different concepts to create sed surprise, “what if the idea of environmental health can be combined with the concept of bowling?” It is way of thinking beyond the box.
But what if this “what if” question applied to these two concepts- what if graphic design was combined with fine art? Many decorated and veteran artists who became designers as the digital wave consumed the decades combine these two concepts quite well. Their presence is stated firmly and confidently in their work, which is a quality young designers have undervalued. Veterans of design bridge the gap between art and design. I hope to shed a light on the past and present designers who have influenced or attributed in any way to this form of visual communication.
By Rachelle Bautista-Meeks
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