HOW TO BE A GRAPHIC DESIGNER WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SOUL

November 16, 2009

Picture 4Right on, Adrian Shaughnessy. Thank you for taking it upon yourself to write this book. That’s the premise of the introduction.

 

I appreciated Stefan Sagmeister’s break down of the different types of designers working today, and in particular I was glad to hear someone acknowldge the fresh young ones working with “one foot in the art world and the other in the design world.” That is what I hope to accomplish: a working balance between traditional design and contemporary art.

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Geoff McFetridge, one of those guys working with one foot in each world. This is work for the Pepsi One campaign. Maybe the animal hand is the art hand and the little pink human is the designer hand, and they’re joining forces to become one? (I’m projecting.)

Hearing Sagmeister’s insights into how he successfully started and maintains his own design firm led me to garner a singular valuable truth: learn. Keep learning. Listen, watch and read. Remember.

The attributes needed by the modern designer are creative, philosophical and practical attributes. Cultural awareness, communication and integrity, according to Shaughnessy. I might add intuition, curiosity, and dedication.

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Barry McGee, an artist making graphic work. Sometimes he makes work for clients and sometimes he makes work for galleries.

This book is a startling newsflash (and one that I need to be served with) that graphic design is largely about client work. I kept looking for insights into making great personal work and getting paid lots of money to do that. I didn’t find them. It’s about time I reconcile my perception of graphic design with the reality of the design world. I don’t necessarily have to abandon my inclinations or impulses to make the things I want to make, I just have to scoot over and let in some of that client world I’ve been ignoring for so long.

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Daniel Eatock is an artist with roots in design. He says he devotes 5% of his time to client work and the rest to personal work.

In Art 321, Branding and Identity, we were given the opportunity to design a visual identity for an entity of our choosing. Did I choose a real client? Nope. I chose a hypothetical one. The State of Jefferson. A secessionist movement from Northern California and Southern Oregon that contains an eclectic rural population of radical farmers, pot-smoking hippies, gun-wielding libertarians, etc. They were my client but I was really my own client. I was more interested in contemplating the solution to brand a whole people than I was creating branding for a product or business.

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The Beautiful Losers artists that Sagmeister mentions. People who are making art that is also commercially viable, either as art or design or film or advertising.

I suppose until the realms I wish to work in start to value design as worthy of their funds, I’m out of luck. I’ll have to listen and watch and learn to work with clients and reconcile that sometimes I make craft, sometimes I make art, and sometimes I make design.

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