Design is a social profession // In the end, you're trying to deliver a message to an audience with a hopeful intention (buy, vote, exit here, etc)… and to do that you'll need to become comfortable communicating with people in real life. As you go through your day, make the attempt to look up, smile and even engage people in conversation. I ride BART every day and meet all kinds of folks — many of whom surprise me. I love that part. The teenager in a sports jersey and sideways baseball cap reading an advanced physics book (and had plans to go into the army); The burly biker with lots of tattoos who turned out to be really nice; and Joe. Before he retired in May 2014, I rode the train with Joe for almost 2 years and first started talking to him when I saw him reading a book in Thai. Joe is a tall, older American and the last person I would expect to see reading a book like that. I found this interesting and asked him about it one day. Come to find out, he was in the Air Force in the South Pacific for years and he speaks both Thai and Japanese (and his wife is Thai). Every day he told me something new about Thai or Asian culture — for instance, when Thai people ask what you would like to eat, the translation is "what would you like with rice?"... the assumption being that you eat rice at every meal. I would know a lot less if I had not taken the time (and taken the risk) to talk to Joe the very first time.
Each semester, we have a town hall meeting... the kind where everyone gets together and chats and someone takes notes. I make posters for them. Sometimes it's fun to look back on the old ones... even the ones we didn't end up using.
I've mentioned this a few times in class and it dovetails with the idea of being pop-culture literate, but the importance of Family Feud should not be underestimated.
Hosted by the slightly inappropriate Richard Dawson in the 70s and 80s and now in the hands of the Steve Harvey who adds his own flair to the show, it features teams (families) trying to guess the most popular answers to questions.
How is this remotely tied to visual communication?
As a designer, you'll need to connect with your audiences in new, unique, and interesting ways. If you always approach the problem through the lens of the #1 answer, folks will very likely get it, but their interest might not be piqued. If your approach isn't even on the board, there's a good chance that it will fly over the heads of your audience. However, you might look to the #2 or #3 answer to find a solution that is familiar, but a bit unexpected...
Sometimes what you think might be the right-and-proper way to approach something isn't actually the most natural or effective.
... And in the instance above, we see the importance of at least landing on the board. Why does this matter? You're charged with connecting with your audiences — not future historians... not design award judges. In other words, you have to be the conduit via which your audience will make meaning and gain understanding. If you aren't able to help them connect the dots in ways that they can understand, appreciate or relate to, then you've failed.
Unlike a printer, a computer is something that you'll want for your very own (very soon). We don't suggest relying on computer labs or friends for this.
So many choices There are a lot of choices out there, so let's keep it simple: we suggest Macs and we suggest laptops. With a well outfitted laptop, you can run the applications (CS6) easily and do what you need to do — plus it can be portable if needed.
There's nothing wrong with an iMac or MacPro, but it unnecessarily ties you to your desk and — in the case of a MacPro — is more computer than you need unless you're doing processor-intensive CAD, 3D, animation or video work. I do everything on a 13in MacBook Air.
Plus, when all of your friends have Macs (and likely the same printer), troubleshooting will be much easier.
Q: There are a lot of cameras out there… which is the best?
A: The best camera is the one you have with you.
This is why I love the camera on my smartphone (and the reason I recently upgraded — I got a camera 2X better for $200... which, from a camera POV, is a good value). The great thing about smartphone cameras is that you often don't look like you're taking a photo at all, which can be a bonus in a store or crowded train car. I'm often taking photos of the nutty things I see on BART and folks just think I'm checking my email… However, sometimes a smartphone camera (iPhone in my case) is not enough.
The "what should I buy?" question is a common one with many variables (cost, size, complexity), so I'll post it here — in blog format — so I can keep it up to date with new models and so that we can refer to it as we need to...
The quickest innovation and the top choices seem to be from Sony, Fuji and Canon, so start there.
Unlike a math test, when we look at your creative work, we don't start with an A (100%) and work down, we start at a C and work up — and, we don't deduct points from a A, but instead add them to a C. This is markedly different from how something like a quiz is graded... and a bit more like how an essay is graded.
I've shared Bert Krages' link many times with my students — it's a great POV (from a lawyer) on the rights of a photographer in the public sphere. If you're taking photos out in the world, I'd suggest taking a look and maybe printing it out and keeping in your camera bag.
This week, the topic of removing the (capital) "I" from graphic design came up — and it's the first time I've talked about it in this way:
In a very real sense, "you", the designer — in the figurative sense — don't matter. Graphic design isn't fine art. It's not about expressing yourself and exorcising demons. Graphic design (i.e.: visual communication) connects a message to an audience with a hopeful result. There is no "I" in that equation, is there?