As Milton Glaser once said, “The computer is to graphic design what the microwave is to food.” There was a time when our industry didn’t rely on technology, aka ‘Design B.C.’ (before computers). If you’re familiar with Mad Men, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Illustration was an integral part of the design process. Today, the computer is our #1 source for inspiration and design. Why? Because it’s fast, reliable, and easy. Being a good illustrator isn’t essential for designers anymore, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon the skill all together. At CBX, one of our core values is ‘dirty hands’ so we made it our mission to break out the charcoal.
CBX recently invested in a two-month still life refresher course (taught by SVA) to help bring us back to the basics.
Throughout the course, we practiced a series of exercises like contouring, shading, deconstruction, perspective, proportion, and figure drawing. Some of these skills were new to us, and some were refreshers. But most importantly, we were forced to get out of our comfort zone – be looser in our execution and drop the need to be perfectionists. It was nice to be able to express our creativity in a laid back, deadline-less, and pressure-free environment.
One of our exercises consisted of deconstructing flowers. We were asked to slow down, focus on the details, and truly see the object for what it is. We needed to throw away any preconceived notions that we came with to the drawing table. That’s often what happens in our field of design because we seek a universal language that will appeal to the masses, and don’t always focus on our own personalization.
Sitting in the room, watching a group of 10 designers see and sketch the same object differently was an inspiring reminder that we are all unique, we all see things differently, and that’s exactly why we make such a great team.
As our industries evolve, so do we. While we adapt to the latest design programs, technology, and social media trends, it’s easy to lose sight of the skills and tools that got us started in design.