The Artist and the Designer
Towards the end of my studies at the London College of Fashion, I decided that I no longer wanted to be a Fashion Designer. For my final year thesis, I arrogantly decided to ignore my field of studies and with a few friends and a camera created a short, very artsy fartsy film. The film got me an award, a first class honours degree and into Fabrica. A place that was conceived on the premise that all creative fields are one. A revolutionary idea at the time and a place where youngsters were imported to create anything freely, regardless of its place in the world.
Upon my exit from that bubble, I decided to work in Advertising with the title Graphic Designer. The antithesis of what I had previously experienced. A minefield of dos and don'ts, must and must nots. A place where creative ideas come to die. Also, the place where I learnt one of the most important lessons that I still to date live by. That the job of the creative person is to communicate, in a simple and effective manner. And that only within the confines of rules and regulations and real-world contention can new ideas be born.
In some fundamental respects I believe that the process of Art and Design are completely different, but in some ways I think their intentions have some very basic commonalities. Here are a couple of them:
1. Art and Design cannot be selfish acts.
They are both inclusive and serve to sell you something. One sells a product and the other an idea. Both have in common their function. To speak to an audience. They must both speak a language that is understandable and void of arrogance. And I don't mean your Facebook, first person, we're all best friends, but also pop in and buy something, kind of language. What I mean, is that the idea behind your work however complex must be translated into a language that does not make your audience feel inferior. And the reasoning behind that is not to dull down complex ideas, but that I believe that both Art and Design serve to influence change in the world. And that the only way you can do that is to be able to reach the lowest common denominator. The person that isn't ready for change. And usually, his vocabulary is very basic.
2. Technology is not a creative idea.
These days anyone with a Mac and an internet connection can call themselves an Artist or Designer. But designing a hipster logo, a Graphic Designer does not make, nor does having the latest Photoshop brush, an Artist make. Both Art and Design must exist within the confines of trend or rather let me say within a chronological time frame, but they must both be able to stand the test of time. We live in a world where change happens in light speed and it is easy to become a copy artist by using new technology. What will withstand the test of time is the message and not the technique, the emotion and not the cool visual effect. The work created in this manner with still be around long after hipster logos and cool visual effects go out of fashion. Content must always be put first.
A much respected colleague of mine had once said to me that if your grandmother can understand it, then you've done a good job. I continue to live by that and am hoping I might influence you to adopt the same belief too.
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