Monday, July 31, 2006

"why design?"

Design, as with any career, can be a difficult job to deal can be very frustrating at times. Since roadblocks are the enemy of any creative, I ask myself "Why Design?" in order to take a step back and re-focus when things get tough.

Why do I design? Let me first define the area of design that I'm involved with. Graphic design is all about communication...communicating everything from a quick message to a more involved philosophy. In order to communicate, the work needs to be interesting both visually and conceptually and both need to support each other...along the lines of the phrase "form follows function", but with graphic design a more accurate phrase would be "form follows content". So why do I design? If you think my answer is as generic as "because I have to!", you're wrong. I create graphic design because I enjoy giving a creative visual and conceptual look to someone's idea. I love to take something that's intangible and invisible and help others to see it, to interact with it. I get inspired by a good idea and create good ideas that will inspire.

I think the fast pace world we live in forces too many to willingly and unwillingly jump on the fast track thus forgetting the way things were before they jumped on. In some ways, it's easy to forget why we started something when all we're worried about is the next job/client...and keeping the one we currently have. Regardless of what creative discipline you are involved with, it is important to remind yourself why you got involved so that you can stay involved.

Friday, July 28, 2006

the critique of the creative

As creative people, graphic designers (as well as people in other creative disciplines but for now we'll focus on designers) need to experience what is most often referred to as a critique. Yes, I'm talking about the times when our work is put up for display...and informal/formal comment. The time when observers pick apart and dissect our work. Sometimes the observer(s) gut our work to the point where the only thing that remains is someone saying "it appears to be a flimsy piece of paper with what appears to be a....wait...yep, I think it was....YES, it was a design!".

Sometimes those critiques leave us feeling good about ourselves, other times we're feeling as if someone is standing on our chest. But if we're truly as educated/talented/professional/worthy of our titles as we say we are, we'll see the critique for what it's worth: comments from an observer that to varing degrees need to be taken into account if we're to grow as creatives. It's not a personal attack, it's a donation of time that is intended to help the designer who's work is up for critique. Regardless of how difficult it can be to hear a critique of our work, giving a critique requires just as much responsibility.

Remember, our job as graphic designers is to communicate in a way that has both function and appropriate, yet aesthetically pleasing, form. When we're analyzing another designer's work, we need to remember that. Some designers will go into the critique with their ego's leading the way and others will go into it blindly, grasping onto others comments hoping to ride the bandwagon to safety. Honesty with respect is the best way to go. Tell them what you think. Don't be afraid to voice your educated perspective but respect the designer and leave opinion out of it as much as possible (or preface the comment(s) with "...and this is my opinion..."). The easiest way I've found to approach a critique is to keep in mind four points:

1. What is the concept behind the design?
2. Does it function based on the principles of design? (weighing those principles against the included design elements)
3. Does the aesthetic compliment and support the function?

4. Is it a well developed aesthetic?

These key points will, in my opinion, prevent you from providing too much opinion and not enough meaningful comments. Don't waste everybodys time. Be honest. Be respectful. Most important...stay focused.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Creative Latitude

Creative Latitude is an organization that, simply put, helps creatives. Whether that help comes in the form of an article for clients about how to work with graphic designers or through their list of member profiles that contain links to their respective work, Creative Latitude devotes a lot of time and effort to education and promotion in order to support the creative and the industry in which they work. Their website says it best:

"Creative Latitude is a worldwide community that unites various creative disciplines for collective promotion, education and ethical business practice."

Check out their site at for more information and resources.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

featured designer 07.06: David Carson

David Carson isn't so much an influence as he is a challenge. His work defies the obvious and trendy, branching off onto it's own level and raising the bar that much higher. Some designers think he's brilliant, others think he's over rated. I think he's one of the things this industry has needed in order for people to realize graphic design doesn't have to be "safe" and that the term "appropriate" doesn't have any boundaries. Check out his work at