The influence of the fine arts in the graphic design industry has been on my mind a lot this week. I just recently interviewed for an internship with the Working Class Studio and one of the questions I was asked was how often to I design with my hands; not digitally, and I realized it’s almost never. My first thought was, well, I am designing with my hands, but it’s just on a computer and not a piece of paper. However, after the interview I went home and really started to look through my portfolio that spans a good 15 years and I realized that 15 years ago I actually would draw things on a piece of paper, not with a stylus. I used presentation boards to present ideas, not a computer and there was no such thing as easy access to stock photography. Then things really started to click for me. I have patterns and packaging in my portfolio, but again they were all drawn on a computer, not on a medium that I would then use to create the packaging. Why did this change? Why has my design changed was what I really wanted to understand.
Has it been the longer I was working as a design “professional” the more my creative process was centered around a deadline or what a client wants? Is it that I work mostly with electronic mediums so I instinctively go to the computer? I don’t know if I have the answer yet, but I did realize this week that I have set a new personal goal for myself while in graduate school, to try and design as much as possible, project permitting, NOT at the computer. This was a really foreign idea to me. I kept thinking, how will I do this? But then I started thinking about the graphic designers I admire; Paul Rand and Milton Glaser and they both boomed in our industry in a “non-digital” environment. Can I do this? Am I a strong enough designer not to rely on a computer to fix a crooked line? Can I explore an idea far enough without the fear of having to crumble up a piece of paper if it doesn’t work out? And I really wonder if non-digital graphic design still has a place in our profession.
I quickly got to set my goal in motion this week for a project for GRDS 702 that I have decided to do mostly designing off the computer. My neighbor is a fine arts student at SCAD and I sat down with her over the weekend to do some brainstorming and I found her creative process so interesting. We were sketching with different mediums and I realized each time she did it, she always grabbed a small piece of paper from a notebook. I asked her what it was and she said it was her experimenting notebook. She pulled it out and leafed through all these pieces of paper that had different patterns, motifs, drawings sketches almost anything she felt like experimenting with. Whether it was a new paint, marker, ink, whatever, she would just doodle with it to learn how it flowed, how it would blend with other colors or mediums. It was something I typically do on a white artboard in Photoshop or Illustrator and then hit the delete button when I’m finished and I thought about how many possibilities I probably erased at the click of a button.
It’s been a fun goal so far and I’m really looking forward to the challenge down the road!