Tuesday, April 04, 2006

process, process, PROCESS!

A big problem these days is the computer. I know that sounds strange but I don't mean it in the manner that you think. The computer is an amazing design production tool, it saves us time and energy and puts more production power in our hands. However, some graphic design students and actual graphic designers have adopted a habit of running to the computer to start experimenting with various ideas. There is no sketching, no idea-generating systems, no research...just a lot of mouse work in their favorite software package. This is the result of no process and without a process, the designer is left to wander in and out of various passing ideas and thoughts. That leads to a weak end result...at best.

Graphic design is a process that ultimately allows the designer to be creative and create unique, appropriate, and successful work. That process begins with ideas and research, period. Occasionally, a designer will encounter unique circumstances that force him/her to work quickly and with an abbreviated process. That's fine, as long as you're experienced enough to have an established process that is used consistently. But, when a designer starts on the computer and begins to "play around with type" or "fiddle with shape tools in Photoshop", they are refusing to develop strong ideas and a strong concept. That's what the sketchbook is for, to make sense out of all the ideas going through their head and to sketch out rough ideas to work out the rough spots.

Why am I making such a big deal out of this, aside from the fact that process is such an important part of design and a design education? Because I see work displayed by so called "designers" that has no concept or is obviously lacking process. Because I've seen students in the first year of actual graphic design BFA classes run to the computer at the beginning of a project. Because I've seen both students and designers told that something is working when it's not. Because some designers think that the computer replaces the sketchbook. How is this mis-information/education corrected?

As a graphic designer critiquing a student or designer's work:

-don't provide feedback until background information and sketches are provided, explain why that's necessary
-relate weaknesses in the design to the design process and how the process can solve those problems

-emphasize the sketchbook over the computer
-be honest...polite, but honest

This is such an important aspect of graphic design education and practice. Regardless of whether these bad habits and mis-information are a result of a poor education program or a poor self-study routine, the bad habits and mis-information need to be corrected for the sake of the student, the graphic designer, and the industry.

1 comment:

HD_Wanderer said...

Nice piece. I don't sketch as much as I should, but I definitely agree with you. I was in art school pre-computer. It gives you a different perspective.