Designers who draw


How important is it, with so much technology at our disposal that designers should be able to draw?

When I started out on my journey in art and design, you had to be able to draw. All designers could draw. There were no Apple Macs or Adobe software programs to help out. And being part of a small studio, there was no Art Department. Designers were expected to come up with great ideas, visualise them, art direct photographers, mark up type, etc., etc., etc.

But drawing wasn't just a mechanical process. It was a process where ideas were explored, designs developed. Having to hand draw and trace type gave me an extensive knowledge of letterforms and typefaces. Crafting the way something was going to look was a great discipline. 

Technology is a great tool but I believe a lot of the skills that are so important in creating great work are rapidly disappearing. Online Photo Libraries provide ready-made images – photographs and illustrations. Many young designers have become technicians, assembling components from various online resources and making an idea or concept 'fit' whatever they can find or afford.

'Strategy' has become the be all and end all. If the strategy ticks all the boxes, who cares what it looks like.

I recently posted a comment on a Linkedin Group – Creative Design Pros

Call me old-fashioned but I think it's a shame so many designers can't draw anymore. Ideas and problem solving are massively important but the best designers are those that have all the skills.

The response I got back was very enlightening. Those who don't or can't draw were very vociferous and defensive. On the other side of the fence were those that used to draw a lot but had become a bit lazy, perhaps because technology had made things too easy.

I used to draw all the time. I was a good drawer, my first degree was in illustration, but I too have become lazy. My drawings now are very rough scribbles and not things of beauty! Even writing by hand is difficult. I'm thinking so fast my hand can't keep up, and whatever I write is illegible.

After my post on Linkedin I received many responses from designers who were keen to start drawing again, to dig out their Caran d'Ache crayons and get back to basics. 

In response I've now started a Group – Designers Who Draw.  It may be the start of a drawing revolution.

One of my inspirations as a young designer was Milton Glaser – a great designer and illustrator, and in August this year I'm going to study with him on his summer workshop at the School of Communication Arts in New York. I'd better take plenty of pads and pencils. Designers who have been on the course say it's a life-changing experience. 

I can't wait.

Gary CookeComment