Monday, August 17, 2015

Design is so much more…

Confidence has never been a strength of mine. I can be sensitive to even the smallest (and frankly, stupid) things. A few days ago multiple people told me that I shouldn’t have been allowed to compete in a company-wide coloring contest (not joking…coloring) due to the fact that I’m a designer. The actual words that were said, I believe, were ‘you color for a living;’ and ‘color is what you do every day;’ and then there was the more professional version ‘you are an artist, and you studied the use of color’ (I believe this was his attempt to not offend me). Now, it could be my sensitivity, but this upset me—Am I (and all other designers) really a professional ‘colorer?’

“To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit: it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify, to dramatize, to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse. To design is to transform prose into poetry.” – Paul Rand

For me, design is so much more than color. Sure, color helps you evoke emotion, create a statement with a [loud] pop, develops distinction & recognition, and can even be influential, but without a great design what good is color?

So what is design? Design is communication. It's visual thinking and strategy. It's beauty and it’s change. It's challenge and growth. Design is what you make of it. It's clarity. It's telling a story. It's emotion. I also believe design has a close tie with user experience (UX). You can find what others believe graphic design is all over the internet, for example: AIGA, Massimo Vignelli, Quotes, and Articles.

“Design should never say, ‘Look at me.’ It should always say, ‘Look at this.’”
– David Craib

Will you come across those that say graphic design is about fonts and colors? Yes. Are they wrong? Yes and no. Typefaces, fonts, and colors are just pieces of the design, not the design itself.

“Styles come and go. Good design is a language, not a style.” – Massimo Vignelli

If design is defined as a form of communication, then why do people believe I color for a living? And should my profession and past experience determine my eligibility to participate in a ‘fun’ and ‘friendly’ competition? I could be wrong, but I believe my stint of studying color while getting my BFA was a whopping 2 weeks long (if that) out of 4 years of study. I don’t know why this insulted me; again perhaps it’s my poor confidence level and sensitivity, but it did.

My husband’s response to all of this was that people get jealous of talent, and he followed up with…’but really when was the last time you colored?’ (The answer is years, by the way.) What do you think? Are designers considered ‘professional colorers?’ Am I over reacting, or should I be insulted? Your comments are welcome.