Designing by Hand – Blog Entry 5 November 7, 2011Posted by Kaleena Tucker in : unit 8 , comments closed
Graphic Designers often feel at a loss when not able to produce design work with the aid of a computer. I’m certainly not exempt from having struggled with that feeling many times in the past. So, I find it refreshing to learn of designers who confidently approach the use of hand generated processes in their design work. This week, I ran across the work of Mike Perry, a New York based designer who works in a variety of mediums, and has almost abandoned the use of computers in his work. Check out this poster design.
(Image source: www.mikeperrystudio.com)
Perry has even created a book about the use of hand-generated design. According to his website www.mikeperrystudio.com/about , “His first book, Hand Job, published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2006, focuses specifically on the relevance and beauty of hand-drawn type in the digital age.”
In a second example, I found a wonderful interview at www.willemvanlancker.com/writing/paula-scher-interview that contained an article with designer, Paula Scher. Most people in the design world are familiar with Scher and know that she’s become known for her hand-crafted approach to typography. What I liked most about this article is her honesty and thoughtfulness regarding the craft of design. I’d recommend reading it in full at the link above.
In considering both of these designers, I’d say that the benefits of avoiding mainstream technology would be that the work I create becomes a truly original design that is the result of my own ideas and artistic ability. In other words, I’m not reliant upon what the computer can do. I’m not thinking of ideas based on tools I’ve learned how to use in Photoshop or Illustrator. I’m designing based on ideas. As I may have mentioned before, much of my past work has felt cold and emotionless (even when using textured backgrounds, warm colors, and script fonts). Those results prove that many times, there’s no substitute for creating work by hand.
In terms of craft, both artists found ways to create extremely successful designs. But what I loved about the Paula Scher interview was that she surprisingly defended the use of mainstream technology. She says,
“I mean I think that craft is there because as long as you can see and as long as you can make value judgements about things, that’s what craft is. Craft isn’t just you know cutting something with an X-acto knife and pulling it together, I mean I’m sitting with my team all the time making them craft the typography appropriately by closing up spaces and taking care that positioning is right and scale is right and the proportions of things are right. All of that matters because craft is at the heart of everything. So if you think well but you don’t craft it appropriately its going to look like crap-ola. What always happens with technology, traditionally, and what will continue to happen is that the first guys on it are the technological geeks and they have bad design skills so everything looks like holy hell until the designers get out of their fear of the thing and they get on it and all of a sudden its craft again. So craft does not go away.”
I love that. No matter what the tool is, craft is how closely we pay attention to details. How much we care about our art.
As for my experiences, particularly as I worked on my last project for class, I’d say that Scher’s words certainly ring true. For me, the example would be reversed as I moved away from the computer (my comfort zone) to a hand-crafted approach. As I tasked myself with creating type by hand, I had to think about spaces and positioning and scale.
So, whether it’s using the kerning tools available in InDesign’s character panel, or working with string, craft is about care and concern for minute details. It’s about aesthetics.
After reading the articles mentioned above, I’m more inspired than ever to seek out opportunities to create unconventional designs. Perry and Scher’s work has an energy and personality to it that much of my previous work has lacked. As I move ahead as a designer, I anticipate my work growing as I embrace a new way of working and thinking.