Blog Category: Read&Respond

Paul Rand & Stefan Bucher

By Erika Goering,

Paul Rand links art and design by their common uses of form and content. Without form, there’s no content, and without content, there’s no form.

This video is great because it illustrates what Rand is talking about by using the most basic, simple forms composed in very careful ways (much like our dot compositions from earlier in the semester). Rand says that the elements of design are the language of form, and I think that’s very true. Form doesn’t have a voice unless you give it something to talk about and a way to say it.

A blue circle is just a blue circle, until you make it sit a certain way in a frame or multiply it a thousand times and use scale changes to give a sense of depth. Then you’ve got bubbles in water. You’ve set a scene for a story.

Just like markmaking is just markmaking until you put marks together and give them context. They don’t mean anything until there’s a use for them. And that’s what design is. It’s purpose.

Stefan Bucher is a professional markmaker. He turns marks into drawings, and those drawings turn into characters. Then the characters adopt personalities of their own. He starts with a type of fractal ink blot that creates a framework for his creatures.

Both of these artists are using basic elements of art and design to create compounded elements that start to take their own shape. This is exactly what I am doing with my haiku shapes. I took marks, put them together to make compound marks, then I turned them into a flash video, with movement and dimension.

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Layers & Transparency

By Erika Goering,

In the chaos of this week, it was good for me to just sit down and read for a moment. So, what did I read about? Well, graphic design, of course. Specifically the role that layers and transparency play in design.

In Graphic Design: The New Basics, Ellen Lupton writes about how layers can transform a composition. Layers added and removed can show the versatility of the work. Objects can be obscured or enhanced by objects on top of them, thus changing the way the composition looks and feels.

Lupton also talks about transparency and how it works. Transparency happens when you can see multiple layers at once through each other. This can create a window to the focal point.

Transparency and layers are related, because you don’t notice transparency in an object until it interacts with another object on a different plane.

So, I got to thinking, how can I apply my newfound insight to my current project?
Well, I haven’t quite gotten to the point of overlaying the type with the imagery yet (as I’m still refining that side of the project), but I’ve been playing with layers in other ways. My compound shapes are made up of layers that have been carefully composed to look dimensional and spatial. I also use layers to hide flaws and accentuate moments that work really well.

As far as transparency goes, even though I haven’t put my typography in front of my imagery yet, I’m still working with transparency with my dots. Some of my materials are transparent. I have some plastic sheets that I’m using for dots. They are very glossy and I only use them in very specific places. But sometimes they interact with other dots. And when they overlap, the colored plastic shows the image underneath, but in the hue of the plastic. This gives a whole new feel to the imagery.

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By Erika Goering,

In response to this post, I have to say that the readings and video expanded my idea of what graphic design really is.

I work in an environment where what we do as designers is greatly limited to what will sell to our clients. We really only get to do “personal work” twice a year at our art show in the fall and auction/fundraiser in the spring.
After awhile, I got myself into a bit of a rut with my design work. Same ol’ stuff day after day, mostly. (I mean, I love logos, t-shirt designs, and websites to death, but I realize there’s so much more than that. Especially since watching that video. Man, I wanna be more awesome than ever now!)

My definition of graphic design before seeing the video was very limited and narrow. Because I don’t do much design work outside the realm of what my job requires.
But I want to change that. (That’s why I’m in school; to rediscover my creativity that got me here in the first place.)

I think everyone in the graphic design world has a somewhat loose idea of what to say when people ask “so, what do you do?”
I just kinda rattle off all the tasks I do at work because “graphic design” isn’t a sufficient answer for most people. They usually just reply with “so… you make signs and stuff?”
That’s where I say “Yeah. But mostly the ‘and stuff’ part.”

The video and reading from the aforementioned post gave me a bit more to pull from when I want to put a definition to the words graphic design.
Stefan Sagmeister sums it up pretty well when he shows his work in the video and on his website. He has done lots of analog, tangible stuff, by the way – not the purely digital comfort zone that I’m familiar with.
The tangible aspect of his definition of graphic design is what changes the game for me.
Touch it.
Taste it.
Feel it.
Be it.

That’s what it is.
Graphic design is an experience.

No matter how broad or precise my definition is of graphic design, it’s still damn near impossible to explain to my mom what graphic design actually is. (Yes, mom, I do computer stuff, but that’s not all…)

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