Everything we do and experience as individuals directly and indirectly influences our decisions, our beliefs and our ideas. Every action, experience and decision helps form a part of what drives us, what motivates us, what excites us and inevitably forms our characters as human beings. However as designers, what is all important. Is our ability to see. Not look, but see! A designer’s vision is their most important asset. Not their ability to draw, or communicate ( however these are very important attributes) It is the ability to see what the rest cannot. To anticipate what is coming. And to be able to understand why something looks right or not and why a product is successful. The winning designer is generally the one who can see the clearest and can act on their enhanced foresight. Now there is no correct way for a designer to form or inform their vision. They can throw themselves into one thing and spend their whole lives in tribute to one form of aesthetic, or a particular subject matter etc. Alternatively, they can constantly experiment and take pleasure and education in more obscure sources. Da Vinci felt he could not communicate the human form until he could properly understand every part of how it worked and functioned, it was his atomical studies that informed his sketches. Endowing him with the ability to communicate the human form in the most truthful way to him. It is this approach which is required by designers who don’t simply want to recreate what has gone before. His study and enhanced knowledge of the human body allowed him to portray the human form in a unique and enduring manner. The character and wisdom of Da Vinci can be seen in his atomical studies and have lasted centuries.
However, when a designer stops looking or studying their field, they are in trouble. It happens in every field. In music, the pop star that begins to live in a bubble tend to lose the initial appreciation of the beauty or angst of life that compelled them to make music of honesty and sincerity that helped them to grow in the first place. The kind of music that people want to hear. It is for this reason that the most genuine artistic expression occur early on in people’s career, afterwards it is quite hard to escape the bubble. Bringing me to life drawing, I have been doing this for a number of years, however, I cannot think of any type of exercise that can help a designer more. In terms of understanding proportion, composition, tone, light and shade. It is among the most challenging subjects to communicate. Furthermore, the skills learned in life drawing are amongst the most difficult for a designer to obtain through normal means. It is like running on the treadmill and somebody turning the speed to 20 kmh. It is hard at first, but you adapt and improve at a much quicker rate than your average weekly jog! Life drawing is turning the treadmill to 20. The results, however, include an increasing ability to see the world in a more interesting/informed manner. To take pleasure in more obscure sources and communicate them in the design process. Basically to see what everybody else is missing. Creating more interesting design work in the process by opening up limitless avenues of creativity. Furthermore, once comfortable with the basics of proportion, composition, shade and so on. You can experiment, find ways to communicate it differently or see it differently. Amazingly important when you are in a creative field.
The designer should be the person, in a project standing, at the top of the mountain being able to see further than everybody while being fully aware what is at their feet. They must provide some form of vision if a product is to succeed. It is reassuring for a designer to know that they can have their heads in the clouds with some mind blowing piece of design work at their disposal, or be able to toe the commercial line and tone it down if needs be. But they must have that inspiration in the first place. The designer with their eyes closed is doomed to stagnation of design quality and will suffer. However, those that avoid the bubble, constantly embrace life, its subject matter and its evolution are likely to continue to create design of great creativity and quality. Life Drawing is a good place to start seeing again…
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