I still haven’t come up with a good answer for when family and friends ask me, “what does a graphic designer do?” Chapter 8 discuses just how complicated a question that is. Design is no longer just about the logical presentation of information. These days the strategy and concept behind the design needs to be just as strong as the “cosmetics” or visual aspect. I think these days this idea is what creates a valuable designer. Anyone can learn the software, but it’s the mind behind it and the effect the piece has that’s worth something. It’ the “design-thinking”.
I like the statement, “If you recognize the fonts or colors used to make the interface of your mp3 player then they are probably wrong. Much of digital design an interface design is about the function to its user and the less you notice the interface the better it is. Coincidentally, great design creates a better experience for the user. Great digital design entails predicting the user next move or and knowing every way that an interface might be used.
The books idea of ethics is an interesting one, and a perspective I hadn’t thought about before. The author bashes branding, claiming that its a fad on its way out. While I don’t fully agree with this statement, the idea that idetnity can be deceptive is true. Take BP’s logo for example. Simple, clean, green, and energetic. Not at all what the company is. As a designer this is definitely something to be aware of. I don’t agree that branding as a whole is deceptive as I believe branding is a sum of the entire company. A brand is only as strong as people think it is. So even thought a logo and identity may be strong, if the community doesn’t support it, then the branding as a whole is not effective.
While I am not planning on starting a studio anytime soon, Chapter 5 gives invaluable perspective as to what a studio wants when hiring and how they recruit designers. This blends well into the next chapter about self-promotion and marketing yourself. Creating an identity for myself has been one of the hardest design projects I’ve had yet, and one I’m constantly morphing and editing.
I’m glad that he pointed out how many designers begin presenting their work with the phrase “it’s not finished”, or “I’m just about to re do”. Preempting with these sentences always works against you, but it a great example of how we are horrible at putting together portfolios of our work. I realized from reading this chapter that we all feel similar about our portfolios: once we finish them, we are already unsatisfied with its contents. I like the the author advises not to use “linguistic cliches”, but how do we know what the client or employer has seen before?
Finally catching up on my reading!
This chapter made me feel stressed out and relaxed simultaneously. It’s good to know I’m not alone, but still stressful to see what’s ahead!
I appreciated Chapter 2 in that it wasn’t about design at all. All of these skills, time management, research, strategy, writing and presenting are integral to good design, yet we rarely think of them as our strengths. The truth is, its hard to schedule in such a creative field because you never know when inspiration will strike; and you sure can’t force it. This idea is probably what makes me most nervous about making the jump from being a student to a design professional. As a student in the program, although we always finish project by the skin of our teeth, there is always ample time to brainstorm but the production time seems to quickly disappear. I like the author’s idea of taking a break from projects in the “high” parts rather than the “lows” so that you still have the motivation to start again.
I can also appreciate the importance of presentation skills. As much as many designers hate to present, it’s important to realize we are always presenting, whether it’s to one person or 50 people, we’re constantly trying to get our idea across.
Again, with the Chapter 3 and 4 this book continues to be a better and better resource and extremely relevant for a soon to be graduate such as myself. While some of the advice I’ve heard a million times, some is extremely helpful. For instance the ins and outs of freelancing/setting up a studio, or sending a traditional mail piece rather than just showing your work in an email. And even with the lessons and warnings I’ve heard over and over, it’s good to know that I’m doing it right.
The idea that there are thousands of solutions to our design problems is both amazing and overwhelming. This concept functions well with participatory design though. A design solution with only one iteration would prove boring and useless, but using participants to generate unexpected results presents extremely interesting content. Technology exacerbates this content by creating practically an infinite number of results. So many successful sites in this day and age are created by millions or billions of user creating content. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Gmail, Yelp, Instagram would be empty shells without their users constantly updating content. I like the interview with Keetra Dean Dixon and her response to the idea that graphic designers are being overwhelmed by technology. She says to keep things in perspective which I find helpful and soothing. Her advice be a “jack of all trades and a master of one” is a good rule to live by, meaning that you should be good at a lot of aspects of design, but have a passion or speciality for one; along the lines of the discussion we had last class about choosing a focus.
On a related note, in How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul touches upon the idea of being a “jack of all trades”. London design students had the task of reclaiming a stir of public land. Although none of them had urban planning experience, their design skills enabled them to formulate a framework with which they could get feedback from the community and therefore get a better idea of what sort of project to put in place. This idea that we can use our design skills to create projects that span across subjects and communities is a notable one. We as designers understand process as whole, something that is valuable across many platforms. Chapter 1 of the book also outlines the three qualities a graphic designer needs to posses, one of them being cultural awareness. This quality is especially important and is relevant on both and international and local lever. Our awareness of the outside world drives our design decisions and basically forms our initial instincts when presented with a design problem.
When reading the 2015 trends article by AIGA, I appreciated their mention of artists employing multi-discinplinary studies to become better designers. I believe this to be true as well and think it is so important to be well-rounded when approaching design. Coming from an engineering background, I thought that design would never overlap, but I’ve found that my practical way of thinking has been very helpful in my design career thus far. With classes I’ve taken at PSU I’ve always found a way to circle back to design. My consumer behavior class and advertising class for instance, was so relevant to design that I was surprised that the professor didn’t make a mention of it. User-centered design has everyone’s attention these days. Understanding your audience and their perspectives is a huge factor in the success of design and it’s the hardest to learn. I think there should be an entire class on it!
I felt the reading from Participate complimented the articles as well. It’s all about staying “flexible” and having a system so that when things change, (which they always do), you’re ready for it. This planned change makes consumers, or participants, feel like they’re growing with the company, and change is much better received when it flows naturally, versus when a company tries to create a new, shiny identity. The most relevant thing I learned in my advertising class is that a company’s position in the market is not created by the company, it’s created by the consumer. Therefore, their identity must reflect just that and be propagated by its users.
I LOVE this Milton Glaser’s list of “Ten things I have learned”. At the risk of sounding cheesy, this list applies to life just as much as it applies to design. Number 3, “some people are toxic” is such good advice when’d dealing with a client or anyone else in your life. I also enjoyed Number 4, “The good is the enemy of great”. While this section took a bit to interpret, I realized the takeaway is that trying to repeat the good things other people have done will never lead to greatness. That good will only result in good is a powerful message.
I really enjoyed this section of participate. Maybe because it appealed to my practical side. I love the opening statement “In the twenty-first century, design projects can live perpetually in an unfinished state”. For me, the word “unfinished” always contained negative connotations, but for design in 2013, it is what creates really successful design. “Unfinished” means “framework” in a sense. Or that there are many solutions to a design problem rather than a fixed one. I love the idea of using modules to turn ordinary objects into extraordinary ones, such as with MeBox. Seeing lots of examples of successful modular design is really helpful and definitely giving me more confidence when creating my own.
I found Rick Poynor’s essay about both the blending and distinction of art and design to be a bit redundant and cliche. He seems to stress this idea of approaching “the relationship of art and design more flexibly” like it is this brand new way of thinking. I believe we’ve blended the line between design and art so much already we’re looking for ways to divide it again. And even so, does it really matter? Will an artist be offended if you call their work “design” instead of “art”, or vice versa? Probably not. I loved when he quotes Hella Jongerius. She states, “Still, does it really matter all that much? Who cares if it’s art or if it’s design?” I could not agree more Hella. I’m not sure why Poynor decided to include this excerpt, as he then continues to discuss the importance of continuity between art and design. The delivery could have been a bit more concise, but overall Poynor makes a good point about creating a wider public understanding about what design is, its impact, and reach.
Stumbled across this project by Candy Chang (!!!) that I hadn’t seen before. Created. Displayed in Las Vegas, people are able to see people’s anonymous confessions and create their own. I love this idea and it seems like people were pretty eager to respond. Especially a place where the motto is “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”