Computer and the Designer
Some graphic design teachers believe that computers have freed
students from traditional requirements such as hand-generated
drawing, color, basic design, typography or letterform exercises.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The computer relates
to graphic designers as word processing relates to the creative
writer. You would not teach creative writing by focusing on
electronic equipment, but in principle, that is exactly what
many art and design educators are proposing to do. What comes
out of the computer is no better than what is put into it.
My impression is that computer-generated graphic design today
is based more on what the computer can do for the designer
than on what the designer can do with the computer. The incredible
number of options afforded by computers can be both an educational
advantage or a pitfall for users. It is the teachers
responsibility to instruct students in a manner that makes
them beneficiaries and not victims of computer technology.
This involves sound instruction in visual principles, high
standards and teaching the value of self-imposed restraint.
spite of the previously described conditions and practices,
my reaction is that it would be wonderful if I could begin
my teaching career all over again as the computer is such
an ideal instructional tool.
Much Too Fast
computer provides the student with endless options of size,
arrangement, choice and color. Each option is an opportunity
to make a decision. The entire process of examining options
and making decisions affords an ideal learning environment.
The time-lag associated with traditional processes for finalizing
a design, in most instances, are reduced to minutes. This
permits students to accumulate vastly more experience within
the same timeframe than formerly was possible with older methods
the student sees on the monitor is close to how the printed
piece will appear. This permits changes at a point when the
design is still flexible. This is compared to reaching a blueprint
stage before discovering the need for change and having a
major correction which is time consuming and expensive.
type, design, color and proofing are now combined into one
process, where formerly these were done separately. This gives
designers control over all aspects of design. Under the older
process, it was only when the various elements were completed
and brought together that the designer had an opportunity
to view the combination of elements.
judgment to make the best use of the computer comes from values
which shape design decisions, and values can be taught. Some
values are acquired through knowledge of design history and
knowing the various styles and movements shaping design and
typography. Knowing the work of recognized designers, past
and present, contributes to the formation of personal values.
Being visually literate is critical to making sound judgments.
Students must know the difference between what is creative
and what is novelty; knowing what is clever and what is ingenious.
In short, an awareness of the highest levels of design contributes
to establishing worthy values. Values are often referred to
judgment in making design decisions grows out of visual values
or principles, and these have not changed, only the technology
that gives them form. Visual values are the basis for the
critical analysis that leads to decision-making regarding
the overall visual properties of design. Student understanding
of visual principles is critical when using the computer.