Monday, 21 December 2009

Are we getting it a bit wrong?

Today I was up in my attic getting down the christmas decorations when I saw the box that one of our TVs came in (please continue reading, this is going somewhere)  and had a rare moment of revelation. Like a flash of genius, except I'm not a genius, I just like to over think things. The thing that sparked my whole thought process and this blog post was the tagline used to sell the TV, "Design That Performs".  
Not the most thought provoking or original of statements, especially when you think of it in its original context of selling TV's, but when applied to my brand of graphic design it suddenly means something else.
Design that performs, design that's been rolling round my head all day. The thing is, it may seem obvious but the whole point of graphic design is it needs to perform. It's not only about looking nice, it needs to transfer a meaning to an audience. 
When I look through a lot of my older, and even some of my newer work unfortunately, it does lack this quality to it. Graphic design needs to be polished and work on more than one level. When you have a design that is visually stunning it doesnt automatically mean it is a success. Quite the opposite in fact. If the only level that your piece works on is that it looks nice, yet the type, colour and layout have no thought process behind them then (in the realms of graphic design) how can it be a success?
Some of us (meaning designers) seem to be having a fixation with making things look nice and finding a meaning later. Surely meaning should come first and then we make it look as best as it can?
To use an example from my own work - im not one to point fingers at my fellow peers- the posters that I created for Kino4 film night lack the correct thinking to make something that looks nice actually work.

See, when i first produced this I was delighted. Simple, obvious, recognisable poster design that would grab attention when put up each week. Yet now, with the whole 'Design That Performs' thoughts running through my head, how do any of these posters work? I mean come on, what was I thinking, a font from the 20's with a one colour background, Rollerball and If are essentially the same poster, the only difference being If has a more 'British' red....
Colour choice obviously matters and each colour does have thought to it, the posters are just trying to hard to be simple and the choice I made of using a typeface that doesn't reflect an era from any of the films in an attempt to remain neutral meant that each poster bleeds into the other. They simply lack any real impact.
So, Design that performs, how to make this work? well to be honest I'm not sure yet, I've been to busy trying to fix the hole in my roof. When I do know I'll be sure to post again. 

Betsy, Arran and Graham I ask you your opinion on my predicament, are we, as graphic designers putting too little stock in making sure that our work means and stands for something? Should we be asking more of the people viewing our work, do they need to be spoonfed an opinion? I don't know, please tell me 

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