Jan '13 - Feb '13
In my previous blog post I talked about graphic design and modernism, on the importance of making things that last compared to being 'on trend', in the moment or "fresh and young". I still stand by that, but I'm writing this as I go along exploring and there is always different sides to a case, and trying to fit a square peg in a round hole is just all the more difficult when it's hard to actually tell if the peg is square in the first place – or some sort of freaky, shape-shifting hexagon.
Through the ages, art has always been (in hindsight at least) been put into categories, to -isms and definite categories. Art Deco, Modernism, Post-modernism, Cubism etc. These have been, to a degree, a overview of the cultural world, encompassing literature, architecture, visual arts and philosophical thought. It might seems strange, but I want to keep talking about graphic design, because it seems like it is Designs' young sister, part rebellious, part confused on where to position itself. Is graphic design in the same ballpark as architecture, industrial design – and to a degree art? Art and architecture has a strong link, but if you talk to a graphic designer about art, you get an uncomfortable cough. Mostly because out there, there are a lot of graphic designers who think they are artists, but lives frustrated by the fact that the commercial nature of WORK doesn't leave them with creative freedom and room for self-expression.
I don't think graphic design is art, neither is architecture. Art doesn't have limits, rules or boundaries (generally speaking). Design does. However, there is – and should be, a link. A graphic designer isn't an artist, and self-expression isn't the main goal of a designer. If you want to, there are room for self-authorship, and as a graphic designer you are well equipped for that. I recommend the books of Ellen Lupton. But, even though a graphic designer isn't an artist, a graphic designer can be a curator, and to a certain extent have a voice. Graphic Design is the same as Visual Communication. As a visual communicator it's your job to communicate the world around you.
Often, graphic designers will complain about the commercial nature of the WORK. There are limits to what you can do, and many will be left bitter at the Client. However, this shouldn't stop a designer making good work. Prod at the problem, search within the boundaries of the problem at hand. Practice talking, thinking and analyzing. Here we encounter one of the problems of design. Where did critical thinking go? One of the leading voices of critical, analyzing graphic design – GRAFIK Magazine died a while ago, got resurrected, and then died again after give or take three issues. Parsons School offer a MA in Design Studies or example, but it's a hard world out there for critical writing, where magazines die and blog posts come and go.
I do however, believe that for graphic design (if we again think of graphic design as DESIGNs younger, rebellious, uncertain, a bit punky sister) to mature, someone need to talk about it, write about it, start magazines about it. Art, architecture and to a degree industrial design have forums for critical analyze, for reflection and for discussions. Not just about color and form, but about context, impact, reasons etc. Search for graphic design blogs or magazines, and you are likely to end up with "inspiration" and tutorials.
I encourage everyone slightly interested in graphic design to search out critical discussion, analytic articles and well written books.
And speaking of "talking about graphic design", begin your journey here: http://observatory.designobserver.com/feature/graphic-design-criticism-as-a-spectator-sport/37607/ and then here: http://www.amazon.com/Graphic-Design-Theory-Readings-ebook/dp/B009P5MNHE/ref=tmm_kin_title_0
This ended up as a stream-of-consciousness, I hope it made some sort of sense. As always I'd be very happy to get some more input and comments – if you agree, disagree, have other points of view, or is just outraged that I dare talk about graphic design on an architecture-website!
A blog about design and architecture, and the points where they overlap. How they inspire each other, and can inspire each other. Often based around graphic design, but also around architecture, service/interactive design and industrial design