Monday, September 3, 2007

Expert or Pseudo-expert?

I was recently reading a financial book and read an excerpt describing the expert vs. pseudo-expert. Although it was a book about trading stocks, it rang very true for graphic designers and I would think most professions as well. The book is titled "Way of the Turtle" by Curtis M. Faith, and I want to quote the following section:
"For every true expert, there are scores of pseudo-experts who are able to perform in the field, have assembled loads of knowledge, and in the eyes of those who are not experts are indistinguishable from the true experts. These pseudo-experts can function but do not really understand the area in which they claim expertise.

True experts don't have rigid rules; they understand what's going, and so they do not need rigid rules.

Pseudo-experts, however, don't understand, and so they tend to look at what the experts are doing and copy it. They know what to do but not why it should be done...they know how to apply complex processes and techniques and have been well trained but do not understand the limits of those techniques.

Don't confuse experience with expertise or knowledge with wisdom."
It was a very interesting passage and made me think of the scores of people who have been trained to use the suite of design applications, but not how to design. True designers, and true experts in any field, just "get it." They are innovators, problem solvers and leaders in their field. I would like to think I am a true expert. I hope I am and will always strive to be. It's a good thing to always challenge yourself and your limits. Push yourself a little harder and hold yourself to a higher standard. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

There is No Bad Type

There is no bad type, just bad uses of type. I have seen cooper black used as brilliantly as garamond and I have even used a blackletter face that turned out fantastic. On the other hand, any font can look horrible when improperly set.

I would highly recommend everyone, not just graphic designers, read the book Stop Stealing Sheep. It is a manual of how to properly choose, use and set type for all different professions. I have been re-reading it the past few days and found it very helpful to remind myself of a few of the finer points of typography. I truly believe God is in the details and taking the extra time and attention to fine tune your typography is what puts your design at the next level. Not to mention it will improve the readabilitiy and legibility of your piece.

If you really want to delve into the finer points and culture of typography, I would recommend visiting It is a forum for typography discussion created by a fellow classmate of mine, Jared Benson.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Designer as Author

Designer as Author is the theme and mission of the School of Visual Arts (SVA) program in New York City. Below is a pull quote from their mission statement:
"Since its inception as a profession, graphic design has been primarily service-oriented, with a few original creators emerging in every generation who guide the way and set standards (as well as styles).

In recent years, new media have changed the role of graphic design in various ways. Graphic designers are more in demand to develop a client's branding, identity, and packaging programs. But with the means of production on their desktops, designers are also becoming glorified production "artists." The danger, of course, is that graphic designers will be edged out of the creation process, relegated to only the mechanical follow-through."
I have found that it is incredibly easy as a graphic designer to get caught up in servicing and pleasing your clients and you become as the designers at SVA say "cogs in the process" instead of creators. It's good to remind ourselves from time to time that we are experts in our field and it is part of our job to inform, educate and direct our clients down the best path. It is also our job to create, innovate and push design forward. We need to continue to create original pieces and products, if only for ourselves, to keep our imagination alive and kicking.

You can read the entire mission statement by following the link below:
School of Visual Arts MFA Designer as Author: Mission

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Apple's new iPhone, as well as the iPod and other products, has brought the theme of simplicity to the forefront of my mind.

iPhone lineup

Simplicity of design as well as simplicity of user interaction is in my mind the key to great design. The ability to think differently, take in vast amounts of information and boil it down to it's simplest and purest form is a phenomenal skill and much easier said than done. I like the quote by Albert Einstein:
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler."
One of the most fascinating things to me about graphic design, and all fields of design, is the process of molding an environment
—whether it be a sheet of paper or a physical space—to marry beautiful form with user-friendly function. Simplifying the complex to deliver a clear message. Design is definitely more than just pretty pictures. Well, good design anyway.