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Graphic Design is not so state of the art

By Scott Richardson
Before getting too deep into this article I would like to introduce myself. My name is Scott Richardson, and I manage and am the senior designer at a reputable design company in Sydney, Australia, called Pendulum Digital. Apart from managing my company, I am also an artist, working in both digital media, and freehand media such as drawing and painting. Visual Art was my major at school, where I received top grades, and my final year school work was selected, from 13,000 to be exhibited at the biggest art gallery in Australia, in Sydney with 69 others. From those 70 artworks, 13 were chosen to tour the UK and New York, mine was included in those 13. This is my first of many articles, and I wanted to start by giving my opinion and take on the design industry in general. Having spoken about my art background, I want you to know that I am primarily an artist, and rather be called an artist, over a designer. The following will cover a few issues in the graphic design and digital media world that I think are prevalent and current, but mainly I will talk on how there is an inherent lack of art direction in the design industry.

Above are the three artworks that I had exhibited around the world. The series is called: Religion is technology (Dead?)

Art Background
I guess that I am lucky, having grown up as an artist, in an artistic family. My mother was an artist, and my grandmother is an artist also, who varied work between classic styles of painting, to more garish and outlandish styles such as fauvism and abstract. I inherited a steady hand, and an eye for detail, and my preference took to drawing and sketching rather than painting. I started using computers with my first Mac about 9 years ago. I have used a computer since then, and have pretty much been able to grow up with them in my life. Along side my freehand work, I have used computers more and more for artworks and designs. 3 years ago I formed my company, after realising that the power of computers and the direction the web was heading proved to me that I could use my artistic talent to help other people.

Artwork or Design
I mention earlier that I used computers to create artworks and designs. I would like to clarify what I meant by that. To me, I never just create a design. Nor do I call myself a designer, web designer, or graphic designer. I like to call myself an artist who uses digital technology to help create artworks that work as designs for clients. I feel there are too many people around the world, who use computers, that call themselves a ?designer. Just about every man and his dog is a graphic designer, or web designer of some sort these days. I chat quite a bit on the internet, and 1 in 3 people that I talk to is some for of ?designer. Dont get me wrong though, I am not saying that they arent a designer. On the contrary, that is exactly what they are. This goes for many freelance designers out there, and also a lot of design companies also, who employ ?designers.

Thanks to companies such as Adobe and Macromedia, and products like Photoshop and Dreamweaver, just about anyone with computer skills can become a decent designer of some sort. It is not that difficult to create a nice looking image in Photoshop, slice it up, then use as images for a table in a web site in Dreamweaver. That is something I do dozens of times a week with my work. Having said that, in less than 4 lines on my screen, here you have the inherent irony. Its that simple. Make an image in Photoshop, slice it up, and place it into Dreamweaver, and you have your nice looking home page. That is all it takes to be a designer. This is fine, and for many clients, all they require is a designer with those skills.

The side-affect of this, is that every time I go online, I notice a web site, that looks very similar to another site, only colours are different, or the layout is slightly different. Or, when I read a magazine, the layout is very similar to another I have read, or when I look at company logos, they seem to look and feel the same. They are ?designs, and not ?artworks. The difference being that a design is an image based on standards, constrained by limitations, while an artwork can be anything, something that innovates, or even revolutionises. An artwork is very often an emotional image, while a design is a theoretical image, and the end results are strikingly different.

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