Yup… Reshonda can tell you: I’m still biased and my process is still beset with heuristic biases. First phone conference, I slipped into my usual analytic/ linear thinking and examined the lists of words trying to find patterns and clues. I am still having a hard time changing my way of thinking from linear to, well, multidimensional… And it’s hard to steer away from those well grooved tracks that are heuristic biases.
Second phone conference, I put Reshonda under the spotlight. Her insightful remarks led me to finally associate ‘Spoon’ with ‘Intestines’ and ‘Wean’, and had me visualize a synergy between form and content. Also, writing down notes on the ongoing conversation, I realized just how I wanted to redesign my concept map for improved visual clarity especially that I was now going to look for connections between a hundred different concepts.
A couple of ‘thinking wrong’ victories: holding back my opinions and restarting instead of adapting an existing project to fit into a changing thought process.
I’ve shared some of the writings on Responsive Design already.
Here’s an attempt to clarify some of the concepts.
Some Basic definitions:
HTML: Markup. Defining content as titles, paragraphs, images, links, etc…
CSS: Cascading Style Sheets. Works with the HTML Markup. Tells the HTNL how to look. Color, font family, font size, backgrounds, element layout on the page, etc…
I digress… If you don’t know these basics then you are probably not reading this are you? And who the heck and I talking to? Notice the use of word ‘heck’. First time in my life
Personal experience: Responsive design breaks out of the Mock-up -> Coding model of building websites, because a lot of the design and coding are happening at the same time. Coding responsive layouts can be so complex that there is no point in trying to approach it with a linear methodology. Rather, the designer/front-end developer may start form a general idea or a rough mock-up, and work in a non-linear and fluid way in both coding and design when determining how elements, sizes and margins flow.
Web design as it is today owes a lot to a physicist at CERN in 1980, Tim Berners-Lee, who had an idea for a system for using and sharing documents. That system became HTML in 1990.
From the beginning of the 90′s till circa 1997, Web Design was a concept very vaguely and broadly defined (Kotamraju 2002) to include a vast skill set needed for the technical process of creating and maintaining a website. The study by Nalin Kotmaraju to pin down a definition of Web Design and list the required skill set was published in 2002. Ten years later, her findings from the 90s (She conducted both quantitative and qualitative extensive market and informant research) still resonate. Web Design is still a vague and all-encompassing concept and Web Designer is still what employer and worker agree it to be.
However, three general sub-specialties are becoming more mainstream: Graphics Production, Authoring and Media Development (Niederst 1999).
Graphics Production comes closest to ‘traditional’ Graphic Design (creating mockups, images, choosing typography etc…) Authoring and Media Development now both fall under Front-End Development (requiring considerable knowledge in both scripting and design, translates mock-ups to the client-side part of a website). A third category of specialists are usually needed to complete the process of a website creation. These ‘back-end’ (lol) programmers are responsible for the ‘plumbing’ of the website such as databases and server-side programming, however these programmers are so far up the Computer Science technical tree that they have been non-players in the turf war between Computer Science and Graphic Design over Web Design.
At first, the Code dominated the Art. HTML was unwieldy and the web denied designers control. At one point WYSIWYGs gave back designers control and put the code in the background, but all that changed with the introduction of more powerful versions of HTML and of the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) that would make website maintenance and stylistic updates a breeze. The market required ‘code-created’ websites again.
Entering 2013: A synergy of Code and Design have never been more important than now. With the widespread use of devices with wide ranges in resolutions (iphones, tablets, high-res descktops, giant screen TVs that can surf the Internet) there is a need for responsive websites at the very least; sites that re-size and re-flow to present coherent, legible, pleasantly presented content on any screen. There are even talks on the blogs of the need to design ideal device-agnostic websites (Patrick Cox: Becoming Device Agnostic, Sarita Harbour: The Device-Agnostic Approach to Responsive Design, Thierry Koblentz: Device Agnostic Approach to Web Design) that would stand the test of time and of future resolutions.
Device-Agnostic Design is a fluid, non-linear process requiring the front-end programmer to design as he/she writes code, guided by trial and error and the moment by moment ‘flow’ of the layout on a constantly re-sized test browser.
This is my second experiment with a variant on the Exquisite Corpse. The first time I worked on such a project during my Undergrad studies I actually hated it. Well hate is a strong word, maybe I just disliked it. This time around though, I am curious to see where this will take us.
In retrospect, I see that I wasn’t ready then to experiment with new ways to stimulate my creativity. I had enough on my plate discovering all the ‘traditional’ methods of coming up with concepts and creating art. By contrast, I feel now that I have reached a plateau in my creative journey and am ready for a catalyst. I also have a new-found respect for the creativity of others. I believe that everyone falls somewhere on the creativity gamut and I am far from the top. I now accept without envy or bitterness that a lot of colleagues and classmates have superior talent and/or have worked harder than I ever have to create art at a level I wish I’ll be able to reach one day (It’s a convoluted way of saying that some of you humble me).
On a side note (but completely related to Parts 1 through 3 of our exploration), let me share this little jewel of a link www.sketchtravel.com
In the website’s own words: “The Sketchtravel is a unique international charity art project. This red sketchbook was passed from one artist’s hand to another like an Olympic torch in an artistic relay through 12 countries over 4 and half years.”
Some of the artists are really big names too! I found this while doing research on site that use parallax scrolling for a project at work. Hope you enjoy.
The following image is a screenshot. It’s a screenshot of an answer posted on Yahoo to the question: What Is the Difference Between Graphic Design and Computer Science?
This is the first from the top in a search engine hit (Google) to the phrase “Graphic Design and Computer Science”. It says Graphic Design is mush [sic] lower on the totem pole than Computer Science.
The other two hits in the top three that the search returned:
Q: “tl;dr [sic] I’m currently a Comp Sci major, but I think I’d be happier pursuing Graphic Design, is this a mistake? “
A: “It’s not a mistake but I’ll have to be a bit of a downer here; Comp Sci will pay bills for doing graphic design on the side. Graphic design is glutted with green horned babies willing to work for peanuts. If there’s anything this recession has done to me, it’s cured the idea of pursuing novelty over practicality.” – forums.penny-arcade.com
A bit less spectacular, but revealing nonetheless.
I realize that this neither great quantitative nor qualitative academic research, but these top results on the most widely used search engine are interesting to say the least. These snapshots of the forums indicate that Computer Science is a much more ‘serious’ field than Graphic Design, with Digital Design being an acceptable compromise for the carreer minded. More solid and scientific research to follow, stay tuned for (Part 2).
The web is bursting with well-written blogs and articles on the paradigm shift in Graphic Design and the plight of the professionals (crowd-sourcing, the DIY culture, technology-heavy new media, amateur-enabling technology, design execution seekers, and-whatever-else-not-yet-included-in-this-list up to and including the proverbial kitchen sink).
In my research, I am targeting the effect of the demand for technology heavy new media designs on the profession of Graphic Design but I can’t help but digress and discuss the article in smashingmagazine.com by Andy Rutledge, “Why Should Web Design Be A Profession?”
Here’s a notable excerpt: “…many who claim to be design professionals lack any understanding of the term and, therefore, erroneously claim it. As a result, those paying for a designer’s expertise often don’t know whether they’re working with a professional or a nonprofessional…” (Rutledge) but what really set this article apart for me is its thoroughness in discussing clients and designers engaged in commodity service industry – design execution relationships, and how these business practices impact both the designs and the way the Graphic Design profession is perceived: “…[Customers] get results that are fractional to what could be realized in a professional relationship. … [Designers] must suffer the potential indignity of having much of their expertise ignored and discounted…” (Rutledge). Another spot on point is made with regards to subcontracting: “Sadly, most subcontracting arrangements are not just nonprofessional but highly unprofessional, as they are set up to circumvent designer authority and critical communication in a fog of dishonesty.” (Rutledge). Rutledge then expounds in a direct (and depressing) way on the lack of professionalism and how off-putting the idea of true professionalism (the uncompromising ethical, process, discrimination, and accountability) is to most Graphic Designers.
The Article does a great job discussing the advantages versus the disadvantages, the ‘for’ and the ‘against’ to any of the sub-concepts presented, the underlying and unifying concept being professionalism in Design.
Of particular interest and also published by Andy Rutledge, here’s the 2012 Code of Professional Conduct: http://designproacademy.org/code-of-professional-conduct.html
I hope this is useful to those of you grappling with the idea of professionalism in Design.
As for me, I conclude on this thought re. my developing views on the subject of Graphic Design as a profession: What a mess!
This entry was inspired by Heidi Grant Halvorson’s online article “The Bias Against Creatives as Leaders” on 99u.com (by Behance)
The full article can be accessed here: The Bias Against Creatives as Leaders
After all, it’s quite clear who should be getting the job. Studies show that leaders who are more creative are in fact better able to effect positive change in their organizations, and are better at inspiring others to follow their lead. – Heidu Grant Halvorson
That pretty much sums up half the article’s content (the other half of the article offers helpful suggestions for creatives on how to re-brand themselves as leaders).
Having worked for years as a GM (in a restaurant and a printing company), I can say that my personal experience left me with complicated thoughts on creative types in leadership positions. I realize now that there a two types of leaders, each as valuable as the other, and each needed in a specific position while frustratingly inadequate elsewhere.
The first type of leadership position/ leader is the creative, think outside the box type who experiments with new and daring ideas. This leader is useful in taking a company out of a rut. Not so much in surviving the daily grind and taking care of routine clerical duties. The second type of leader is fit to do just that. Consistent, dogged, resilient, he has a high amount of stamina for the long run. He’s the marathon runner, incapable of spectacular sprints but guaranteed to go the distance. So not me…
In short, I think matching creativity with leadership is a grossly oversimple equation. That’s a recipe for change, and that’s not always what’s needed or desired.
Rilla Alexander: Without the Doing, Dreaming Is Useless
99u.com by Behance (accessed 01/09/2013)
Rilla Alexander: Without the Doing, Dreaming Is Useless
I stumbled upon this video right after the discussion on journey and creative process. Talk about serendipitous.
Well, in all fairness, this was the first time I consciously allowed for exploration time. I mean professional exploration. God only knows how many emails/links/blogs I looked at without really seeing in the past (the ‘past’ being my life prior to this moment).
Anyhow… If it were not for Unit 1, I would’ve stopped the video one minute in. It really seemed kinda silly. I am glad I didn’t though; Rilla really gets into her stride a few minutes in, and I found myself empathizing with her experience and becoming aware of a universal process. I hope you enjoy the link as well.
What is Graphic Design? Answering this question (or attempting to) before I took Integrated Design Media and Contemporary Art was unbelievably fun – to watch. I had no idea what it was that I trained for and how I was a productive and valuable member of society. A few years freelancing had me realize that everyone was a designer and I was only employed because these designers had better things to do than figure out exactly how to use Photoshop – but they could do it if they wanted to!
My first couple of courses at SCAD put some things in perspective for me. I was reinforced in my suspicion that, indeed, everyone is a DIY designer, and our work (as professional DIY designers -_-) was devalued, AND the Graphic Design profession as a whole was suffering from a case of existential malaise. Then the fun part began and was introduced to the joys of 4th order design and design thinking. I was never going to fight turf wars with clients over 1st (and even 2nd or 3rd) order design. I was going to solve wicked problems instead, starting with the wicked problem of how to make ends meet without waiting tables on the weekend (rest assured, this is a problem that was thoroughly solved – by me becoming a programmer… I fought the turf war for design execution and in the process moved from print design to web design to front-end programming, right there, on the fringe of actual design work).
But seriously, to me, Graphic Design now means a marketing/ advertising/ design jack-of-all-trades know-it-all with a special concentration in Guru-style you-never-saw-that-coming business consultation practice. Not that I’m complaining. Well maybe complaining a little bit. In any case, my freelance practice has never been better, what with me designing a menu for a new restaurant and acting as the unofficial beverage director advising on beer and wine selections, or designing a website for a construction company and throwing in all the content, text and images. Design execution is still important, but only as important as a client thinks it is. I now see my role as consultant primarily and pen tool virtuoso secondarily. I have no reservations in refusing or subcontracting execution work (and by execution, I mean these projects where a client has a fully-formed design in mind and I’m just hired to flesh it out by a painful, slow and underpaid process of trial and error).
Graphic Design, like Art, is now whatever a designer and his client(s) agree is Graphic Design.
Goldsby-Smith, Tony. “Fourth Order Design: A Practical Perspective”. 1996. MIT
Brown, Tim. Change by Design
Buchanan, Richard. “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking”. 1995.