I had a chat with Neal today, which is as always ending up with leaving me hanging with some thoughts.
We spoke about several things mostly about the roles of graphic design in the societies. We discussed about their contributions and practices.
Neal has been practising graphic design around 20 years in Australia. Then he decided to teach graphic design in college and university as well as practising it. From our discussion, Neal mentioned that the roles of graphic designer have definitely evolved through these years reflecting back at his own experiences. The roles of graphic designers is no longer to make things looks good or touching up to make things looks better, but it has grown more up to the extend it is now been apply and used as research methods.
There are some arguments and doubts about the transparency in the practice of designing in graphic design. Until now, it is vague as there are no definite ways to produce a graphic design artefacts, for examples is there a clear methods on how to design a service or even how to make a poster and a clear rational behind it.
Universities and academics urge for more publications on methods of practice in graphic design. It is the one of the way to inform or educate others on rational behind the process of designing. The moment when graphic designer decided to choose certain font, images, background or even the material of the object can be invisible and some might view it as ‘magical’. That is when the ‘talent’ came in, only the selected ‘one’ can do it. It could be said that it can be visualise through the Chinese kung fu movies or ‘Harry Pother’, how that knowledge of graphic design are transferred to others, there’s no one ways but many different ways, and it all depend to the ‘Sifu’ or ‘Master’.
I decided to do my PhD because I have found myself wanting for something more in graphic design, a sense of acknowledgement from societies that graphic designers do plays ‘something’ in the culture, in fact in the look and representation of a country. Like in the soccer games or rugby where each one of the player do have the position and know what to do. I think graphic designers have that roles in the society and understand what they need to do. It is not that I feel bored of practising graphic design, but at one point in I was thinking how far could this process go?
Neal questions have motivate me to document our discussion here is ‘How what we do as graphic designers reflects on others?’. Designers think of how to communicate, with different strategies and methods, but do they think of the step they took and what changes or damage they make on the way? Do graphic designer ever think that we might mislead people with signage directions through our design knowledge, with the choice of font we selected and the bright striking colour just because we think that it looks good and have a sense of attraction to it. What recipes graphic designers follow when they designing? Is it their understanding of culture, education, emotions, and reaction towards materials, people and environment that makes them have the trust to make something in order to communicate? What are the ingredients behind this? How do some designers have certain style like identities that make others distinguish them from others? Do graphic designers think about these questions in their creative process of making?
Laurene gave an interesting example when we had a discussion with the Comm.Design Postgraduate group about this. She was talking about her visit to aboriginal’s areas in Victoria and how she found her self fascinated by their day-to-day practice particularly their fishing methods. She was left asking herself how could the European have missed this methods, why it is not been taken into their everyday practices as it is an interesting and effective way to catch a fish.
Is it because that it is not as easy as it looks to describe it or to write it. Some methods or skills are much better learn by practice rather by reading, one could understand the theory but might not be able to do it practically. So, coming back to the European visitors in the olden days, hypothetically, perhaps that someone did write it down step by step, the way to do it, but when it is taken away from the actual environment or situation it might not be as easy as how it was written. I could take this example as how graphic designers create their design, practicing is much easier that articulating the thought of how the theory could be, or how it works, the ‘magical’ part of it. It is much handy to show or demonstrate rather that talking about it. Or for most graphic designers it is much simple to visualise a situation or anything rather than to write or articulating it.
I remembered when I started to work as a Window Display Artist in Park Royal Hotel 10 years ago, all I wanted to do is to practice what I’ve learn and make things. It is funny that I think somehow I belief that I have the kind of ‘power’ to make things look better. I understand that I can ‘communicate’ to ‘others’ through my design creations. In fact when I found out that people react or response to it, it makes my day and makes me belief more and more that I have the ‘power’. To me even though there is no signature in my design work like a practise of an artist, it doesn’t really matter as what is important is, it is successfully communicate to the others. My design will let others know who I am, the style I created and the language I spoken through my design work is enough for others to know who it is from. I’ve created my representations through visual. I exist and I’m part of the societies and contributing in the construction of identity. That is important for me. As what Descartes said ‘I think therefore I am’. Time to think graphic designers…