Handcrafted Design

Select articles similar to the Art Chantry interview in the readings that are either about or make prominent reference to designers or design firms that do one or more of the following:

eschew the use of mainstream technology yet cultivate strong design solutions
use a hands-on approach to important design problems that emphasizes craft.
In your analysis of these articles, consider the following points:

What are the benefits and liabilities of avoiding mainstream technology, either largely or completely?
In the examples you found, were successes related to this approach, or in spite of it? How were aspects of craft importance to this balance?
How does this jibe with your own experience in avoiding mainstream technology? You may use examples from Project B or other experiences.
How ready should a designer be to resort to unconventional techniques when faced with a design problem? What is your recommendation based on the articles reviewed and your own experience?

Questions

Technology is a hot topic in the design world right now.  Design is something that has changed so rapidly over the last thirty years.  There are designers that remember working solely with pencil, paper, paint, and scissors.  There is also this new group of designers that are coming out of school very tech savvy and some might even say tech reliant.  Is there a gray area where the designer can work both in handmade and in digital?  I think the answer is yes.

What are the benefits and liabilities of avoiding mainstream technology, either largely or completely?

The benefits to any medium rely on how well the artist or designer uses it.  If I am a sculptor  I am not going to need to know the benefits of a new software program it does not matter to me.  Design is the exact same.  Although designers work both digitally and handmade they are often comfortable or prefer one or the other.  That is where the main benifit lies.  If you fee confident in your medium you will create a much better product because you understand what you are doing and how to use it.

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The liabilities are similar.  If you are a designer that likes to work with pencil and paper then you will probably not be as successful if you are commissioned to create a digital design in a software program you have no idea how to run.

Now that we have the main benefit and liability out of the way we can discuss the other more detailed benefits and liabilities.  It has become common practice to use technology to create design in todays world.  In the last few decades there it has been all about automation, better food through science, fast food, outsourcing, and cookie cutter design.  This has led to an epidemic of cold humanless designs.

It is my belief that people have grown hungry for handmade design.  We want to see more of the designers in everything.  It is no longer about automation it is about custom work and one of a kind.

It is almost like graphic design is taking pages out of the “fine art book” and creating handmade graphic design that also could be fine art.  It is a great time to be a graphic designer with talent.  It is not a good time to be a designer who relies fully on the digital design environment.

In the examples you found, were successes related to this approach, or in spite of it? How were aspects of craft importance to this balance?

In recent years web Designers have found success in designing hand drawn elements into their websites.  This gives the sites a human touch.  Although this approach is not completely avoiding technology it certainly is bringing an analog feature into the technical world.

Another similar movement is the iPhone app Instagram.  Instagram is a photo sharing network that is known for its analog filters that can be put on the digital photography that is taken with an iPhone.

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Overall people are using handmade elements to really make their designs stand out in a world full of computer generated graphics.

How does this jibe with your own experience in avoiding mainstream technology? You may use examples from Project B or other experiences.

A large part of my illustration portfolio is based on including hand drawn work into photography.  In the example below I have included an illustration in a photograph.  I find that this creates a unique image.  These kinds of images lend themselves well to narrative.

How ready should a designer be to resort to unconventional techniques when faced with a design problem? What is your recommendation based on the articles reviewed and your own experience?

If you are ready to resort to unconventional techniques when you face design problems you will certainly develop new techniques that will set you apart from the sea of designers in the world.  Being unique and being able to create things that no other designer has even thought of will set you into a whole new category.  Being unconventional is what helps drive the creative engine.  Happy accidents, new ideas, and new techniques are what moves the creative world forward.  Be prepared to explore them even when you are not faced with a design problem.  Simply explore for the sake of exploring.

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