In our recent unit, we’ve looked at various SCAD students process books to better assess and analyze our own personal process. I was particularly drawn to the process book by Jane A. Dorn. What initially drew me in was the organic way in which she dealt with the process, in other words, a large amount of handwriting and organic connections.
I’ve been finding that my methodology is more than ever incorporating that aspect, though I’m keenly aware that my handwriting isn’t as legible as Jane’s, but then it’s really all about me at that point. I will admit there have been times where I’ve wondered, what the hell did I write? But i digress.
The fact that Dorn uses the process as a constantly changing and morphing document is something I’ve been working to incorporate into my process….that the document is alive and must constantly be reflected upon and assessed. I feel like we always need to return back to the source, if only for additional inspiration and checking in, though we can always gleen something new with each new look.
Thanks for this class and it’s tandem, i’ve really been exploring the idea of more incubation and gestation. I’ve quickly come to realize this makes my work much stronger in the end.
I honestly believe that it’s an amazing time to be a designer, even though the idea of design education has gotten a bit of a beating in the press recently. It’s interesting that the general public still seems to think that art and design simply happen. That it’s something that almost anyone can do.To some degree I would agree. Yes anyone can make art, but what makes good art is work that is supported by strong thinking, process ideation and a deep study of basic skills. These are the things that separate the “hobbyist” or unskilled artists from the Professional artist. The work has a depth to it that shows that it’s backed by strong skills and thinking.
As an educator I find that you can most definitely teach skills. That’s the easy part. It’s very mechanical and a step by step process. They can create work, or recreate work, but there is something “missing”. A depth and meaning to the work that can only come from thinking and process. Making deeper connections to the viewer that speaks on multiple levels. This is what make a real Designer. A Professional Designer.
We can give students the tools to formalize and better understand their thinking; however, the onus is on the student to challenge themselves and bring their unique perspective to the table. We can’t make them be amazing, but we can foster it.
This all brings me back to my opening sentence, it’s a great time to be a designer. Yes there is a flood of artists and designers in the market. Yes there are designers that are struggling to make a living, who isn’t these days. Yes the challenges are greater to get and secure work, but good designers, with strong work and confidence in their work will ALWAYS be successful.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve really opened my eyes and my thinking to new forms of process work. There have been a variety of styles of process that we’ve discussed, but there are two that really stay with me, Kelli Anderson’s Disruptive Wonder and Graham Wallas’ idea of Incubation, which in an odd way are some what similar.
Anderson’s Disruptive Wonder challenges the designer to see things not as they are expected to be, but how they really are, then turn those expectations on their head. Since viewing that talk, I’ve regularly asked myself the question: Is that what’s expected? If so, how can I flip this on it’s head to create something different, unique and reflective of me and my aesthetic. I find, for me, it’s a question that I need to ask myself regularly. What can I bring to this that’s “me” but more so, can I bring something to this that no one would expect? I find it keeps me challenged and in “fighting form” so to speak!
I’ve also been fascinated by Walls’ notion of incubation. It’s something that I think I’ve inherently done for years, but didn’t really know or understand how that could fit into the process. It’s something that when and where possible I like to fit into my process. While sometimes I feel it’s a luxury, I have found that at times, the project itself forces me to allow an incubation period. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, I find that when I’m “creatively blocked” I find that’s the project telling to take a break and let the ideas “stew’ and incubate. As designers we tend to focus heavily on the idea of “powering through” the problem, but we are creative people and creativity isn’t mechanical. It’s organic. As such it needs to rest, breathe and grow like any other organic element. If I take some time from the project and give it a breather, the work will be stronger, which is ALWAYS the goal!
Rebel. As designers it’s a word we need to always have as our touchstone. Creating design can be a very individual thing, never the same way twice or the same way for each designer. It’s a unique intangible that at times can’t be defined. However, what the subtext of both this class and it’s tandem twin is the idea of creating stronger designs through stronger process.
What can we bring to the final outcome of design as designers? Can we innovate and rebel in something as pedestrian as a business card redesign? Can we change the world with every thing we design? No we can’t. What we can do is attempt to bring the best of ourselves to all aspects of our designs. We can seek out those areas where we can challenge expectations and assumptions. It’s our responsibility as designers to challenge when and where we can and be rebellious if we need to be. We can be the voices for something better. If we push where and when we can we can create a greater level of expectations and raise the bar on assumptions.
By raising the bar on expectations and assumptions we all can work to help define and develop a stronger design community, one where we are viewed in the light of quality and value. We are all aware of the fact that you swing a cat and you hit a designer. Is the designer skilled? Is the design developed with strong process and thinking? Most likely not. While those designers have their place, they bring us all down. They are the ones who quit mid-project, they present work that doesn’t meet expectations and in general bring us all down.
As a community we are only as strong as our weakest links. As artists and designers the only people that really are there as a support community are other designers and artists. To make the community stronger we need to step up and be the leaders. We need to show both inside and outside the community what real designers are and can be. We also when and where possible reach out to the rest of the community and mentor each other. We can be stronger together than we ever can be alone.
I am learning a lot about developing not only my creative process, but how to continue to assess it for improvement. My work at SCAD has really opened my mind to thinking about new ways to solve problems. It’s something that I inherently was starting to feel and question, so this course either came along at the right time or was the cause of my changes in thinking. Either way it happened, it’s happened and I couldn’t be happier about it.
My current “take away” (I hate that term, but it’s all the rage) is that I need to have a variety of tools at my disposal. I need a design utility belt, as if I’m the Batman of design. Seriously though, you use the right tool for the right job and the same can be said for process. You need to use the right method of ideation to solve the right problem. Will mind-mapping work for every project, probably not, so to be a strong and vibrant designer, I need to have other options at my disposal. Without having a variety of tools, I don’t think I could be a strong designer. I feel as if I’d come up with the same ideas on a regular basis, which isn’t good. It reminds me of a scene from the Brady Bunch movie where Mr. Brady can only design buildings that look like their house. I don’t want to constantly reinvent the wheel and i’d certainly be out of business if I did, but people do flock to designers based on their aesthetic, but that’s a subject for a later blog!
As I may have mentioned over the course of the semester, my design process has changed and continues to change in reaction to new ideas and concepts that i’m discovering. The exploration that this course has allowed me, has really opened up my thinking and allowed me to see things in a different way.
My typical design process, was until recently, more mechanical. Hunker down, focus and the ideas will flow. However, I’ve learned that while this is an acceptable method of designing, it’s lately not been the best method for me. Having said that, I’ve been bringing in a more organic and playful approach to my designs. I’ve learned to allow for “incubation” of ideas, as mentioned by Graham Walls in his writing about design. It’s an idea that I’ve heard a lot of designers mention lately. The idea of not jumping right in to a project and hunkering down, but allowing the ideas to flow and ebb, bounce around and let them “stew”. I’m finding that, time permitting, that this allows for the best ideas to come, like a muse guiding me through my designs.
I’ve taken this idea further, allowing a constant back and forth between hand and digital. Printing out design, sketching drawing all over them and in essence…making a huge mess! While to someone looking in from the outside, it does look like something exploded, but there’s a method to the madness, there’s a goal and the outcome is unexpected.
I’ve begun to embrace the idea of collaboration and connecting with fellow designers to ensure that I’m on the right track, but more importantly to push my thinking and creativity in new and different ways. I’ve started to learn that design can’t truly happen and exist in a vacuum. If i see my process as being organic, then I need to begin to view the artifact as something organic and alive as well.
Have I come up with a definitive process that allows me to design effectively? No. But I am on the road to constant self reflection and innovation to constantly be an even better designer than I already am.
It’s interesting that we are discussing creative process in this unit. It’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, particularly due to the collaboration that I have been doing in the process class. Below is (was?) my typical process for any project. It was a rather mechanical step-by-step process that I learned years ago when I was at Art Center. It’s a good process, it works as needed, but it’s a step by step process. There is almost a connotation that if you follow these steps, you should get a set of results and in most cases you do. Are these the best results? possibly.
What I’ve started to look at and explore in my personal process was it’s lack of organic flow. In working with my collaborators I was noticing how others process was less mechanical than mine and a bit more organic and they seemed to get some what better results. I took a risk and attempted to be more organic in my process as well and discovered that I felt I got better results as well.
From there I questioned how can I combine these two methodologies in a way that makes sense and works for me. At this point I haven’t exactly found a process that I would say is a “constant”. What I’m discovering is that each project may have it’s own process. In one instance my more mechanical process may be the one that works, in another it might be a completely organic process and in some cases a hybrid of mechanical and organic.
Having said all that, what I’ve discovered through this is to always question my process. Not to rely on tropes and constantly challenge myself to be an even better designer.
This project has been a challenge for me and I’m not sure why. I definitely need to do some deeper self-assessment and questioning on why. My initial thought was that I wasn’t clear in my head what a literature review is. I find myself constantly changing directions, regularly questioning myself and in essence spinning my wheels.
I embrace the idea of learning new things and being faced with a number of challenges, the least of which is time management. This semester has been a study in juggling too many balls at one time. That’s my personal issue to work through, though the first step might be to consider saying no to some freelance work here and there, or at the very least accepting better work. It’s been a few weeks of craziness that went no-where. It’s all good,it’s a learning moment…
But it’s definitely affected the areas that I wanted to put more time and energy into for a greater return on my investment, such as graduate school. I’ve love delving deeper into semiotics and learning more about it, it’s definitely a subject I want to be better versed in and the literature review is a good first step in that direction. It’s been interesting to see how everyone else is approaching their subjects and learning in greater depth about other areas of design.
I’ll tighten it up and get it together…but the first step is saying no to somethings that might not be as valuable to me in the long term….so I guess ultimately what I’m saying, is before I take on more work, is really assess the value of it against my teaching and my grad work to ensure that it has value, moves me forward as a designer and potentially become more work than it’s worth….
Has my definition of Graphic Design changed since my initial blog posting? I would say no, the definition or meaning hasn’t changed; however, what has changed is how i view the process of graphic design. This semester at SCAD has really opened my eyes to fully embracing process,but more importantly really understanding how to use it, what works for me and the best way to achieve the best design solution possible.
I’ve always embraced the idea of process, knowing that it’s vital to creating work. An architect wouldn’t build a structure without a blueprint, a sculptor has a plan, designers have process. While it can be a luxury at times, my work is always stronger because of it. By re-evaluating my personal process, how I think and achieve my final outcomes, I feel i’m making stronger work than I would have before. I feel like I am a stronger Designer, yes with a capital D, though I’m not all caps good yet!
Good education and learning should always involve questioning. I’m finding myself regularly looking at and evaluating every thing in my life as a designer. What is working, what isn’t working and what is working but can be working better and I’m enjoying the “process” of evaluation.
Has my definition of graphic design changed? I will rescind my earlier comment and say Yes it has. I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for truly looking at and assessing the thinking and development behind work. Trying to understand how the designer got to the end result and was that the outcome the best, most successful solution possible. In other words, can I see the eye or hand of the designer in the work. What is my take-away from that and how can I possible incorporate that process into my work? So yes, I guess my definition of graphic design has changed. I’m more critical about what I call graphic design, I look at it with a more deconstructive eye and assess it on a deeper level than I have before. I guess what I’m saying ultimately, is my definition of great graphic design has changed.
It’s been a crazy week. Between finding time to complete every thing, find a balance between, work, school and some play, I’m looking forward to the coming week. I’m looking to carve out some sort of time for every thing that I’m juggling at the moment.
Having said that, while it’s been an insane and crazy week, it’s also been a great week. I’ve learned a lot, from work, from school and from my collaboration partners. I feel as if this journey is for a reason and not just happening around me. While the storm is a bit out of control at the moment, much like Prospero in the Tempest…I will eventually control the “storm” that is swirling around me. I’ve dropped the ball on a few things, but in doing so, I learned some valuable lessons that will hopefully allow me to not make the same mistakes a second time.
This has been what this journey is about, finding new ways of thinking and making my art, making mistakes along the way, but learning from those mistakes and becoming a better artist and designer in the end. I don’t like making mistakes, but they are definitely opportunities for learning and growth, something i need to always remember, especially in the midst of all the chaos!