Language

Design first and foremost is communication. It’s a language that is easy to learn but infinitely difficult in its execution (Note: just ask anyone who has taken my design courses at UCLAx). As a form of communication it differs immensely from our spoken language. Not only from its obvious use of the senses engaged, but also in its inherent structure.

Vocal languages commonly only stress one side of an interaction. For example, “A stone is hard” describes its properties. It doesn’t convey anything more than a simple one-sided tidbit of information. The structure is very simple–remember your grammar and you’ll understand.

Design is all about a visual language that describes not only a component’s properties but how other things interact with each component in the composition. Each component itself conveys its own set of properties as well as its visual relation to other things around it–the composition also conveys another level of meaning. If done with careful consideration for Composition, Components, and Concept, the visual language of design can communicate and spur more levels of communication long after its initial contact by the viewer. Design can speak to the soul.

So, when you see anything created by humanity, listen to what it conveys. You’d be surprised with the conversation.

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Glasses

Every couple of years, I notice my vision starts to bother me and I have to make an appointment to see an eye doctor—mainly because my eyeglass prescription has changed. I can’t see things the way I normally do. I can’t focus and the world becomes a struggle to visually understand and the world stops making sense. The main tool I use as a visual designer has become my greatest weakness—my eyes. The tools of my trade become useless without them.

Design is the same way, we have to refocus every couple of years or else you’ll lose focus and your design world will stop making sense. By refocusing, I mean taking an inventory of what we understood to be good design and what tools we have to learn or relearn.

Design understanding and education does not end when we leave art/design school. We need to refill our visual prescription every couple of years in order to stay relevant in our chosen profession. It would be nice to have some kind of certification or license to practice design, where we have to renew our license just like our fellow health practitioners.

For those of us who are losing our design focus, it’s time to get the help you need—refocus, reeducate, and retool. That’s what the doctor ordered!!!

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