Are you an artist or are you a designer? Maybe you’re both. As a designer in training, I’ve found that when talking about my future career people don’t know much or anything at all about what Graphic Design is. I’ve also notice a huge lack in Graphic Design being portrayed in media. This makes me feel as though graphic design is not important even though it is integrated into most of the things we see and use on a daily basis. Graphic design is very important to our society as should be respected more as a profession. Graphic designers are constantly finding solutions to design problems that often go completely unnoticed.
I feel a though on of the reason Graphic design is not respected much as a profession is because it is often put in the same category as ‘art”. And we always here the stereotypes of how artist are gonna end up broke and/or working at a Starbucks. Now I believe art and artist are a wonderful and important part of our society, but art and Graphic design are two totally different things. The difference between art and design is quite obvious yet people don’t know the differences and often make judgments on graphic design based on this lack of knowledge. Being a designer takes a deal of knowledge and skill and the process a designer goes through to create art is long and requires lots of revision. In order to teach others more about graphic design and it’s importance to our society, I decided to explore representations of Graphic design in media and then answer some questions based off of my explorations; Why is graphic design thought of as a lazy profession? Who are some graphic designers that have influenced the world heavily? Why is graphic design important to our society? What is the difference between ‘Art’ and ‘Graphic Design’
Susan Kare- Mac’s Icon Mother
Susan Kare is the woman who made Apple’s Macintosh computers first icons. She has also made thousand of icons for some of the biggest software companies in the world. Using principles of minimalism, Kare was able to create precise icons that conveyed their function to the viewer quickly and were easy to remember. In an interview of Kare, she stated that she “think[s] of design as problem-solving(3). She tries to understand the audience and their needs before she begins creating solutions. Kare would “explore many avenues while brainstorming since there’s never only one ‘right’ answer”.
When asked how she feels about new design software and how it has influenced Graphic Design today, Kare explained that she believes Graphic Design now is more about how someone crafts a design vs. the tools the use to make it. She also touches on the idea that participating in a long process or trial and error leads someone to good insight and results vs. making something that is aesthetically pleasing and is “over-shared” thus contributing to the predictability and uniformity in visual expression(3).
Susan’s works are remarkable and the reason to how we are able to understand the computer icons we see today. There are many version produced now, but all influenced by Kare’s original works. Without her exploration and brainstorming to create these initial icons would computer icons be as useful as they are today? I don’t believe so.
Her mention of aesthetically pleasing and over-shared design is important too, as it relates to what we see in design now where peoples’ work can be posted on a number of social media platforms and get mixed in with a similar design, thus not making it special or thoughtful. Lots of people now claim they are a designer just because the created a simple logo in photoshop, but what process did they go through in order to get to the finished product? What purpose does it serve other than being visually satisfying, if it even is that?
Paula Scher- Typography Queen
Paula Scher is a Graphic Designer with a focus in Typography, painter and art educator in design, and the first female principal at Pentagram( a design firm in New York). She was recently featured on an episode of the new Netflix original documentary series Abstract. In this documentary, it follows Scher as she works and lets her talk about her time as being a designer for 40 years. Scher has created album covers for hundreds of bands and logos for some of the biggest companies in this world such as Tiffany & Co., Citi Bank, The Public Theater, The Metropolitan Opera, and much more(6 &12). She is basically the QUEEN OF LOGOS! Slaaaayyyy
Scher works remind me just how much we are surrounded by graphic design and a designer’s work(s) every day. Every sign and album cover we see has been designed by someone in order to differentiate a business or group from others. We see these images and sometimes we’ll think they’re super cool and snap pics and post them on Instagram, but does anyone know who created these works? Does it matter? I believe it does. Why? Because someone took time and spent energy and sketched, doodled, and made mockups in order to produce what we see and they are not appreciated or given the credit they should be given.
Tiffany & Co. is notably one of the most famous jewelry stores and their brand is very memorable. Paula Scher made that happen.
Annie Atkins-Movie Prop Designer
Annie Atkins is literally the designer behind the scenes. She creates artwork for movies starting from the poster, to the graphic props needed in movies like telegrams, prison escape maps, shop front signs, fake passports, etc. She is the person who creates the things that help make the movie come to life and seem more realistic. The cool part? Atkins doesn’t use much technology to create her works. Depending on the time period she will use the traditional mediums used to create the props needed for the movie(13). Atkins must spend a lot of time researching in order to portrayed the correct look for the overall design of a “historic replication” piece. She also always works right on the location of the movie in order to get a good idea of the feel and mood of the movie. She has never set foot in Hollywood (1). Some of Atkins best works are all type based props in the visual movie The Grand Budapest Hotel, and fake passport and neon signs made for Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of spies.
Atkins is good example proving that graphic design doesn’t happen just on a computer and that lots of research and work go into creating every design. Her works played a crucial, yet mostly ignored part of the movies previously mentioned. If her designs did not match the aesthetic of the movie in the time and place it was located, the whole story would have failed to come together. Some of the best parts of movies are the graphic props they use, so to think that someone had to design every little thing is mind blowing to me!
Questions to answer:
Why is graphic design thought of as a lazy profession?
Lots of people I’ve met assume that because I want to be a Graphic Designer I’m lazy and that all I want to do is create art all day and overcharge people for my services. But I don’t want to do that. I mean creating art all day sounds fun, but I rather design and brand people and businesses all day long. I think the reason why a lot of people think Graphic Design is a lazy profession and that anyone with a computer can be a Graphic Designer is because of freelance servicing sites that allow people to “brand” themselves for free or really cheap. Because of sites like these, people then start to think designers charge too much money for their work that seems to be as easy as taking an odd shape and putting a nice font over it and calling it a logo.
After reading Graphic Design: The Rodney Dangerfield of Professional Services, I agree with a lot of the points that are made. For example, “ I’m a graphic designer, you know, I design logos, brochures, websites. ……Maybe collectively, similar lackadaisical answers to “what do you do” is our undoing.” (8) Meaning that maybe because designers talk about their jobs in such simple terms people begin to think it is a simple job. Designers don’t talk about it well and the public doesn’t care to stop and notice how well a designer had done their job in designing a sign, or a yogurts company packaging.
“So when I hear, “what do you do for a living?” Next time I’ll answer, ‘I help businesses manage customer perceptions and influence the decision process by communicating benefits and features through sensory involvement. I am a designer, a graphic designer.’’(8)
Designers need to start talking about their jobs more like jobs and not hobbies and consumers should start paying more attention to the things they buy and why it caught their attention to pick it up and appreciate the person who got them to do it.
Graphic design vs Art: what is the difference?
“Art is expressive and usually about what the artist wants whereas design is about intent and what the audience wants. Design is about communication, art is about expression.”
– Robert Blake(10)
Art and Design often confused because principles and elements in art are similar to those in design and a lot of the techniques used for one are used in the other. However, the purpose is totally different. Graphic design aims to solve problems or communicate a specific thing in order to give a client/ the audience what it wants. Art expresses what the artist wants and is being done for the artist. It can convey a message, but usually, the message is emotionally tied to the artist themselves to then show to an audience. I think it is important to know the difference between Art and Design because then design can start to grow an identity for itself separate from design, thus giving the designer more of a stage as critical thinkers and problem solvers.
Conclusion- Why is graphic design important to our society? Thoughts and hopes for the future.
Graphic design and design, in general, is literally everywhere around us. It allows us to recognize our favorite brands, navigate our way in a mall to the bathroom, and know which button to press on our phones to make a call. Graphic Designers should be appreciated more because without them some problems in our world would not have a solution. People would deal with signs and symbols that aren’t effective in conveying their message, and businesses could not have their own unique identities. Paula Scher, Annie Atkins, and Susan Kare are only a few of the designers that have influenced our world in wonderful ways. Other designers such as Milton Glaser who created the I LOVE NY logo and Shepard Fairey created of the OBEY Giant Brand and more known for his Obama “Hope” poster. Fairey recently created a “We the People” series as a way to protest President Donald Trump. (4) As an up and coming designer, I want this field that I love so much to be valuable and thought of its own category so that I and designers like me can shine a bit more in this world.
“Design is one of the most powerful forces in our lives, whether or not we are aware of it, and can also be inspiring, empowering and enlightening”
– Alice Rawsthorn(7)
Learning moments of the term
This Pop-culture class has taught me a lot about myself and how I view the social media I consume. I had never thought too deeply question or research further the things on saw on my social media as I never thought that there was a problem. Through this class, I have learned that nothing is standard anymore. All search engines have special algorithms that purposely filter through my search results to show me the things I want to see to that I will agree with. These “filter bubbles” block me from seeing views that differ from my own, thus I’ve been missing out on others thoughts on issues I care about. I was starting to think lots of people my age thought the same way I did/do on topics and now I know this isn’t true, leaving me to look quite ignorant. I no longer take videos at face value now take in the media I consume with a grain of salt and research further anything I have more questions about.
I also found that marketers looking to advertise use old contemporary or English paintings to sell a product, was also quite fascinating and sad. In one way its is powerful that artwork that old still inspires people today and the compositions are mimicked to sell products well, but on the other hand, it is quite devious. Marketers are basically telling this idea that if you buy their product you will begin to live that lavish life of the people in the ad. This, however, is a false promise. I also think that using this technique helps to reinforce ideas about groups of people and cultures.
For instance, this magazine cover featuring Lebron James is quite eye catching. Yet compare it to the propaganda poster on the left, 100 years older than the cover, and we find some scary similarities(11). The message present in the propaganda poster is still being conveyed in the cover. Is it on a different level? Yes, but it is still very much present.
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