Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reflection on design

My parents are proud. So very proud. But whenever I take a finished piece back to my old family home to show my mum and dad what we've been up to, I usually get a series of questions which, as they are dealt to me blow by blow, slowly undo me. Upon handing my mother a brochure/book/invitation/90 x 50mm card with someone's address on it, she is guaranteed to make thrilled, breathless noises and tell me how clever she thinks I am. Clever Claire. I'm usually just beginning to really let the moment envelope me, beaming and smiling and doing silent little internal cheers, when the questions begin:

Did I take the photographs?

– No, I just watched someone else take them.

Did I retouch the pictures, making them clean and bright?

– Nope.

Did I write the words?

– Not that either.

Create the font the words were written with?

– Um, not exactly.

What about the illustrations? Did I draw those?

– No to that too I'm afraid.

Oh, the colours! Did you pick the colours?

– Actually – that was part of the branding – they were in the Style Guide...

And on it goes. As I leave Gumnut Road, Cherrybrook with my head just a little lower than when I arrived, I have to ask myself, "What exactly do I do?"

Mum, if you're reading this, thank you first of all – with all my heart – for believing in me. But just in case you've found yourself wondering what exactly you supported me through for 4 years of University, and what on earth I've been doing since, let me try to nut it out for you.

I (and when I say I, I mean we – the graphic design community as a happy whole) – make things happen. Think of me if you will as a chef. What I'm aiming to do is create a beautiful, sophisticated meal – with a delightfully surprising and subtle harmony of flavours and a seemingly effortless but elegant presentation. Don't get me wrong, I spend a lot of time making hamburgers with fries (gotta pay the bills somehow)… but even those meals I want to make special.

I don't grow the vegetables. I don't milk the cow or breed the chickens. I don't collect the eggs and I don't farm the wheat, or the sugar, or anything else. I'm there in the end stages, just before you sit down for your moment of pleasure. I find the perfect ingredients and bring them together to make something which I hope will make your insides sing.

I aim present to you visual beauty in an organised, creative, intuitive and intelligent fashion. And I call it design.

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