Sunday, October 2, 2011

Much Imitated, But Never Matched

(click image to enlarge)

by Gene Testa

While I may not be the most adventurous person or even that easily inspired. What I am, however, is a bit of a type snob. (Yes, yes yuck it up guys.) When I first started at PCAD I had a general idea of what I was good at, that being seeing things in imagery and text and how they flowed together to make something great. What I also saw was that my skill was lacking tremendously and that I was laying things out (as most novice designers do) in blocks and with no real flow or feel for type as a whole. It was a frustrating thing to see all this realy good design work hanging in the hallways at the school and wonder, “How did they do that?”. Maddening was the thought that I had no idea how and that I wouldn't learn how to for at least another two semesters.

So I muddled. I tried and I applied myself, never mistake a poor quality fine arts piece for yours truly to not have been attempted with honest conviction, and fell down a lot. Then late in my Freshmen or as the school has dubbed it “Foundation” year while sitting bored off my rocker in Mr. Scullin's class. (Yes, exactly how can you get bored in Scullin's class?) I forget the exact project but Scullin and I had been speaking on and off through out the morning session of the class and nearly immediately after lunch he yoinked me from the class and whisked me down to the library.

Now if any of you have not had the pleasure to be taken on an adventure to the library with Mr. Scullin then you have truly truly missed out. It went as any trip to the grocery store goes while having resistant young children can go. Someone gets dragged down and isle and things get thrown at them. Save I wasn't resisting. By the time Scullin had finished I had like four tons of books in my arms. Needless to say he had roughly the same in his. Teetering desperately trying not to lose control of this massive stack of books I headed for the table in the center-ish of the room.

There he began once more to tear through the books and by the time he had sifted through everything I had what roughly three weeks worth of reading in my hands. He didn't tell me to read so much as look at them. He told me to ignore the words on the page and just look at how they are placed and how the colors work with them. So I returned to class with this mass of books in tow. In that stack I had yet to really dig into was a book on graffiti (I'll never understand why we have that book) and a book by the man David Carson.

(click image to enlarge)

Now if you know absolutely nothing about him or what he does I'll be brief. The man has no degree in design. He has one, of that I can assure you, but it's in sociology. So what leaves him qualified to design let alone teach? It's his lack of fear. The mans fearless and nothing about design seems to phase him. Yes he see's it. Yes he does it. But aside from that where does his genius come from? If you look at the images any type snob, myself included, would rage at first glance at the type layout. But! BUT! If you take a step back and look at it. Turn off that nearly OCD drive to want to fix it. You see his genius.

Using different font sizes, different fonts, colors, and paragraph styles he gives a sense of hierarchy. What must be read first and what can be left for later. When he talks he doesn't seem super intelligent. But if there is one thing I've come to notice throughout all his talks or articles written through interview with him. His key message is to just try. He may not come out and say it directly. He may not even say it at all. But the man encourages us all to be the fearless designer and just throw our ideas out there. So What say the rest of you? Shall we be fearless? Should we not be afraid to fail? Should we just try and have an adventure with our designs? I think we should.

To enjoy the "David Carson on Design + Discovery" TED talk, go here.

1 comment:

  1. I've got two words for everyone: Raygun Magazine. David Carson's game changer for both myself and my "art crowd" friends when we were in college. Fantastic work. Fearless, indeed.