Neu Black

Design- New School vs. Old School

02.6.08   |   Posted in: Art & Design   |   By: Kellis Landrum
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We dug up a very controversial interesting article by Marian Bantjes on Speak Up addressing the generation gap between designers who got started in the Pre-Macintosh days, and those who came into the game after computers had become the norm.

There are a lot of issues in the creative game today surrounding the bar being lowered by cheap access to the tools of the trade and there are some very strong feelings on both sides. We think it’s just as easy for the old school crew to take a “These kids think the computer will design for them” attitude as it is for the new kids to say “My Creative Director is old, he just doesn’t really get it” and neither side is necessarily wrong or right.

In fact we think it’s lamentable that the term “Graphic Designer” has become some what interchangable with “Photoshop Guy”. But what we can say in favor of cheap technological tools is this- If you’re talented and want to work for yourself, it’s possible. Back in the old days you needed a serious bank roll to start a magazine, a clothing line, or a photo studio. Now you need a few computers, a room, and an internet connection and you can sink or swim on your own talent. If you’re a smart business person you can quit your six figure job to build a seven figure business. While we respect the past, we can safely say we like playing today’s game over yesterday’s.

2 Responses to “Design- New School vs. Old School”

  1. Jaime Says:

    Very true and interesting perspective.

  2. Mark W. Says:

    Thanks for bringing this us article about old school versus new school and the ubiquity of the tools of our profession and how it affects the perceived value of the creative process. Today we see more and more that these tools are falling into the hands of the unskilled, unschooled or worse yet, the semi-talented person who does not yet understand the value of ‘art, craft or design’ and will do the ‘photoshop work’ for a cheaper-than-market-value price. I say ‘the photoshop work’ with a firm tongue-in-cheek because sometimes that’s how our Fortune 500 management refers to all aspects of Design because some of them simply do not understand nor appreciate the value that Design brings to many of the organizations we work for. The article is right; we as educated, serious professionals need to take back the respect that we should have earned; just how that is done is up for debate. In my daily role, , I am able to work with our Sales dept. and generate cold hard figures that point to Design’s success’ and how that can impact my company’s bottom line, but I also understand that for many of you, that is not possible.

    As for old school versus new school techniques, the same debate occurs in my field of Industrial Design as well….as someone who graduated with primarily old school skills, I try hard to keep up, and I revel the fact that I can still do sketching, rendering, photo-real paintings and even lofting and drafting by hand, as well as P-shop renderings and Alias modelling. Each skill has it’s use. In a mildly ironic twist what we are seeing more of now in prospective portfolio reviews in ID studios is that we are starting to focus more on design process and plain-old quick sketches to see 1: if you can explain the why behind the how and 2: if you can sketch or only do renderings in the tube because as much as studios use final renderings in their press releases, we in the field know that 80% of the design process is made up of the quick definitive sketch that the modeler and staff can understand., usually executed ‘on the sixes’…i.e.6am or 6pm when a quick decision needs to be made!! We had a very nice well-mannered intern last summer who had some good design ideas but could not draw the same object in perpsective in multiple views, which is hopefully still unacceptable in Design today, but for some reason, he didn’t seem to think so and was constantly telling us we were feeding him “BS” about what skills he was lacking in and also ‘BS-ing” him about what he needed to improve upon. He could ‘Photo-chop’ together an awesome image but he could not draw in perspective views, did not understand simple drawing fundamentals and was always looking for the shortcuts, tips and tricks. Every one of us in the studio kept reinforcing the ethos of mileage, mileage and more mileage, but he simply di not wish to hear it from us…he was convinced that he did not need to learn the old school methods, that software would save him….Personally, I don’t think so; you need the basics.

    Today there are a plethora of outlets for software and tools to create a hot sketch or a math model of a graphic, product, car etc. There’s also many online communities, DVDs, books that are in exponential fashion, putting the tools, tips and tricks of our trade in the hands of the many. However the question becomes one of Design Understanding; does the aforementioned unschooled person willing to do the ‘photoshop work’ have a well-developed design-sense that comes from 4+ years of sitting at the feet of the masters in Design school or are they merely parroting the work of serious professionals or the ‘hot look’ they see in the trades blogs, e-zines as well as traditional print media outlets for Design?!?!I

    Yes, there are some gifted unschooled people, but by in large the best work is being done by those same gifted gifted people who have also been challenged by the best instructors in the best schools, thus reinforcing the value of education and the value of your work.

    So what’s the answer? I don’t have all the answers but I might put forth this little movement…” BE THE EXPERT” ….be the expert in your office, in your corporation, in your community, and make sure everyone within your sphere of influence repsects that by being professional, taking the job seriously and by doing great work that the unschooled amateur simply cannot do, explain nor add value to because they simply do not know what you know. That is your (our) biggest asset-knowledge, so show it….be the expert.

    Again, thanks for sharing the article. -Mark W.

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