Handcrafted design

Procedure

Select articles similar to the Art Chantry interview in the readings that are either about or make prominent reference to designers or design firms that do one or more of the following:

eschew the use of mainstream technology yet cultivate strong design solutions
use a hands-on approach to important design problems that emphasizes craft.
In your analysis of these articles, consider the following points:

What are the benefits and liabilities of avoiding mainstream technology, either largely or completely?
In the examples you found, were successes related to this approach, or in spite of it? How were aspects of craft importance to this balance?
How does this jibe with your own experience in avoiding mainstream technology? You may use examples from Project B or other experiences.
How ready should a designer be to resort to unconventional techniques when faced with a design problem? What is your recommendation based on the articles reviewed and your own experience?

Questions

Technology is a hot topic in the design world right now.  Design is something that has changed so rapidly over the last thirty years.  There are designers that remember working solely with pencil, paper, paint, and scissors.  There is also this new group of designers that are coming out of school very tech savvy and some might even say tech reliant.  Is there a gray area where the designer can work both in handmade and in digital?  I think the answer is yes.

What are the benefits and liabilities of avoiding mainstream technology, either largely or completely?

The benefits to any medium rely on how well the artist or designer uses it.  If I am a sculptor  I am not going to need to know the benefits of a new software program it does not matter to me.  Design is the exact same.  Although designers work both digitally and handmade they are often comfortable or prefer one or the other.  That is where the main benifit lies.  If you fee confident in your medium you will create a much better product because you understand what you are doing and how to use it.

The liabilities are similar.  If you are a designer that likes to work with pencil and paper then you will probably not be as successful if you are commissioned to create a digital design in a software program you have no idea how to run.

Now that we have the main benefit and liability out of the way we can discuss the other more detailed benefits and liabilities.  It has become common practice to use technology to create design in todays world.  In the last few decades there it has been all about automation, better food through science, fast food, outsourcing, and cookie cutter design.  This has led to an epidemic of cold humanless designs.

It is my belief that people have grown hungry for handmade design.  We want to see more of the designers in everything.  It is no longer about automation it is about custom work and one of a kind.

It is almost like graphic design is taking pages out of the “fine art book” and creating handmade graphic design that also could be fine art.  It is a great time to be a graphic designer with talent.  It is not a good time to be a designer who relies fully on the digital design environment.

In the examples you found, were successes related to this approach, or in spite of it? How were aspects of craft importance to this balance?

In recent years web Designers have found success in designing hand drawn elements into their websites.  This gives the sites a human touch.  Although this approach is not completely avoiding technology it certainly is bringing an analog feature into the technical world.

Another similar movement is the iPhone app Intagram.  Instagram is a photo sharing network that is known for its analog filters that can be put on the digital photography that is taken with an iPhone.

Overall people are using handmade elements to really make their designs stand out in a world full of computer generated graphics.

How does this jibe with your own experience in avoiding mainstream technology? You may use examples from Project B or other experiences.

A large part of my illustration portfolio is based on including hand drawn work into photography.  In the example below I have included an illustration in a photograph.  I find that this creates a unique image.  These kinds of images lend themselves well to narrative.

How ready should a designer be to resort to unconventional techniques when faced with a design problem? What is your recommendation based on the articles reviewed and your own experience?

If you are ready to resort to unconventional techniques when you face design problems you will certainly develop new techniques that will set you apart from the sea of designers in the world.  Being unique and being able to create things that no other designer has even thought of will set you into a whole new category.  Being unconventional is what helps drive the creative engine.  Happy accidents, new ideas, and new techniques are what moves the creative world forward.  Be prepared to explore them even when you are not faced with a design problem.  Simply explore for the sake of exploring.

Resources

http://www.behance.net/gallery/Handmade-vs-Digital/485460

http://wellmedicated.com/inspiration/50-amazing-gig-posters-sure-to-inspire/

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/09/28/60-inspiring-concert-posters-from-10-amazing-artists/

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/03/hand-drawing-style-in-modern-web-design/

http://instagr.am/

Life on the Grid

Procedure:

In this design blog entry, you will search out and present material that pertains to grid structures and dynamic layout solutions, builds on the foundation presented in this unit, and exposes you and your classmates to material that will inform and inspire your class projects. Look for resources to review in your blog entry. These resources should accomplish either (or both, if possible) of the following goals:

  • Promote an appreciation of the classic design approach by using a classic underlying grid structure
  • Generate a creative platform to enable the use of unconventional techniques that complement your typographic composition.

Life on the Grid:

At first glance grid system design may seem simplistic.  It is in fact meant to be easily digested.  Josef Muller-Brockmann is classified as part of the Swiss international Style of graphic designers.  He was influenced by many different art and design movements including Bauhaus, Constructivism, and De Stijl. Brockmann was born in Switzerland in 1914 and began his career as an illustrator (CITATION NEEDED).  His design approach is minimalist and simplistic.  When browsing through his work I noticed that he only includes the most important information that pertains to either the design or the essential communication any fluff is cut out.  You can tell by his work that he enjoyed this minimalistic approach to his work.  He created many posters for the Zurich Town Hall as advertisements for its theater productions.

One of his most famous posters commonly referred to as Beethoven is below.

Brockmann published several books including The Graphic Artist and His Design Problems and Grid Systems in Graphic Design.   Both books are known to be some of the best resources on graphic design and grid design.

The grid system is a great tool for designers to use.  It is versatile and offers the designer a universal tool for layout design.  I am not sure that it is something that should be used in every design all the time.  Brockmann used the grid in almost all of his designs.  He was very dependent upon his grid system.  Although his work has inspired designers looking for that clean Brockmann style I think that by depending too much on one single tool you can stagnate your design.

Life off the Grid:

You must train to be a good outlaw.  I like to think of designers who break the grid are type outlaws.  It is interesting to me when someone creates something like the grid system they also create the opposite of their creation and in this case it is breaking the grid.  Brockmann has inspired a whole new wave of grid breakers.  Lee Morton of High5Design created this composition that embodies the grid breaking mentality.

After learning about grid structures and how to effectively use them most designers naturally start wanting to learn more about breaking the grid and how they can use typography in a new and interesting way.  Breaking the grid is one of the ways to communicate with other typography enthusiasts that you are comfortable with many different areas of typography and design.  It is one of the main pieces of evidence that a designer is intentionally breaking the rules and developing a personal style.

Personally I am continuing to work towards interesting ways to break the grid.  When it comes to typography I really enjoy the grid structure, it is visually appealing to have the information organized.  One of the main reasons I choose to break the grid is when I am using typography as more of a graphic design element or a visual element.  I feel like the most successful uses of grid breaking is when the type is used as a visual element instead of a piece of communication used to communicate something by being read.

I found a great article on breaking the grid over at .net Magazine called Five Killer Ways to Break the Grid

Making the choice to break the grid is something that needs to have meaning and be intentional.  Every detail of a design is meant to communicate something and breaking the grid is no different.  You need to be using it as a communication tool not just breaking the grid to break the grid.

One example I love is at TheStyleSpy.com the typography they have chosen for their logo is very expressive and fun.  It is designed to look like it was written quickly with a marker or  brush.  It breaks the grid to express that it is not able to be contained it is almost jumping off the page.  This is a very effective use of this particular tool.

As with most things you must understand both positions before you can start making intelligent decisions about what fits best with your current situation.  I am always on the lookout for successful use of the grid and I am also thrilled to see when designers successfully break the grid.  Either way it is fun to understand why the designers made their decisions.

Resources:

Muller-Brockmann, J. “The Graphic Artist and His Design Problems” Ram Publications. 2003.

Morton, Lee. http://high5design.net/

Samara, Timothy. “Making and Breaking the Grid.” Rockport Publishers. 2005.

Smith, Matthew. Five Killer Ways to Break The Grid