Sunday, December 2, 2007

Design Is A Process

Early on in our first semester of Foundation year in Graphic Design one of our teachers Craig Elliott, said it was a course requirement to have the words “design is a process” tattooed to some part of our bodies. He said it didn’t have to be a visible tattoo, we could use caps or all lower case (our choice) and we could design the tattoo as part of an assessment for Stacy Pollard or Clea Gazzard’s Design classes. I designed a tattoo inspired by the classic “old school” tattoos; a banner (with the great words of wisdom in all caps) over a love heart with a sailor girl on one side in shortie shorts and a buff, if somewhat gay looking, cowboy on the other. I thought the best place for it would be just off centre and to the right of my butt cleavage. I’m very happy with it and have wondered who else in the class completed that assignment.

Despite this however, when Clea set this assignment to design 8 tiles with Graphic Design as the theme I found myself at a loss for which direction to go in…there seemed too many paths well travelled…or so it first appeared. After false starts, hesitations and roads that ultimately led nowhere I finally found a way… my break through. It was pretty simple. I communicated my floundering to my teacher. Clea suggested looking through library books on Graphic Designers, like the well-known iconic ones. There lay my salvation! In a particularly big heavy thick book entitled “A Smile In The Mind” which dealt with wit in design and documented great designs of our time and great words by some of the men and women who designed them. I became absorbed in the words of Paul Rand, Shiego Fukudo and many others. To read that these great designers experienced creative challenges and had personal techniques for overcoming them suddenly put it all in perspective. I identified. I loved reading that some designers thumb nailed and brainstormed and went through dozens of sketches and that others went for a quiet walk and came up with one good idea. That some worked only with paper and pencils and others went to the computer to articulate ideas. That some collaborated and others retreated into solitude.

More than anything this project was a journey. The destination was unknown. It was overwhelming but ultimately satisfying. It was a true metaphor for design being a process…

…and I think the printer really liked my tattoo.

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