Partners In Design



At least once a year, I try and get myself up and off to visit my old haunt, Philadelphia. A very cultural and artistically driven city, Philly always brings me down to earth and gives me a lot of time to reflect on my past, present, and future. I do this because I've always considered Philadelphia the first time I became the person I am today. Of course, there are exceptions and other factors, but that place really was the first time I was able to escape the social constrains of being back home. I was able to become who I was without scrutiny or fear. It's no surprise to some of you that I was very low on the popularity food chain, in fact, at times I was in the dog poop of acceptance. When college came and I went to a school and city where no one knew the old Laz, I was able to finally break loose and be myself. I owe that to Philly, and every year is a larger leap toward my aspirations as an artist and as a person.

This year was no different for me. I was able to look at this past year and reflect on what worked and what I learned, and what didn't work. Artistically (since this is an art blog), I took it upon myself to buy and start reading a gazillion design books (including the fantastic book Shal reccomended, "How to be a Graphic Designer without losing your soul."). Through this, I was able to find a lot of designer's point of views and further explore the ideas of creating personal views and statements in my work. If I have free time, why not begin making statements through design? I began to really understand that If i have opinions and views (Which I certainly have, and certainly get me into some trouble), I should use my abilities to my advantage and share them. For so long I've been accustomed to being silenced or fear opposition, and through the past three years, have learned that it is my srength among others. I have strong opinions and as harsh as they are, they are mine and mine alone. And sharing these thoughts are pivotal to my artform. It should not be limited to my fine arts.

I began reading quite a lot on several designers who share their views (Scher, Sagmeister, Kidd, Krueger) and began to be filled with inspirations. As I've spoken about the other designers, I want to elaborate on what i took from Chip Kidd, a fantastic graphic designer that has done a pleuthora of different design work over the years. What I found fascinating is that for such a long time, Kidd was afraid of utlizing things that naturally called out to him (Kidd was an avid comic book fan as a child, which explains his frequent pop art/noir/vintage style). Over time, it became his signature and strong suit because it was what had called out to him his entire life and ultimately was a part of who made him him. He began tapping into himself more and brought out those sensibilities, tastes, and visual interests from his childhood into his design. I related to this, as I too am very interested in those stylisitic qualities and always have been.

After all of this, and listening to Debbie Millman's 'Design Matters' interview with Steven Heller, author of 'Style Guide' and 'Anatomy of Design', I was struck with this intense curiosity to explore the nature of styles as a designer. It's became aparent to me that i never want to be limited by one particular style and want to be capable of utilizing all design styles. And although I'm sure at some point in my life something will become signature to my body of work as a designer, I would love to be as much of a chameleon as I can and experience all senses of the world of design.

Now before I stop this ranting post, I want to ask you guys something: Do you guys feel there is something about your artform (Design or otherwise) that sets you apart at this point? Something that you feel is signature to you? Or do you feel you're still to reach that point? I would really love to hear what you guys have to say about this, so please post about it.

Below are a few design studies I did based on mixing my favorite graphic design styles from the past ( My favorite is primarily 50's advertisements), My favorite subject matter, and some statements I have strong opinions and stances on.


Shalimar said...

This was a good post, thanks for posting it. To answer your question, I don't think that stylistically (design wise) I have a signature to my work. You may be able to tell I did something because you know know me and know where my head is at the time. As for something innovative and original (which I think is almost impossible to be nowadays) I dont think I have yet to reach that point. There are so many looks that I want to experiment with, I am far from finding something I can be comfortable calling a specific signature. My brain is still in this "safe designing" mode that I am having a hard time breaking free. Blah Blah Blah, that answer is so all over the place and makes no freakin sense. ENJOY!

Laz said...

I think it totally makes sense. I think it's really hard for some of us to break free from what works. In that podcast today, I love that the entire thing basically revolved around this issue. There are so many people (including huge studios) that consciously or subconsciously produce work that some may consider a complete replica of another designer's work from the past. What Steven said was that this was acceptable and part of our world because when anything is a public artform, we must expect that things will be seen and utilized and eventually rehashed. Everything is a copy of something else, and unless you're a visionairy, would be very hard to see something that is totally original. I want to get "Anatomy of Design" that he wrote, I think it will give me a better grasp of this stuff we're exploring.. It'll be tough to get to that place, all of us. But we will, im sure.

Alexandra said...

I think we are too young to have a stylistic signature. Like Shalimar said, I think we can pretty much tell who drew what, since we know each other and have a general idea of how we each render things. I don't necessarily consider that a signature, but maybe it's part of one. A signature in the making. I also have a hard time experimenting outside of my safety range, but it's something I am preparing myself for gradually. I think it takes years to develop your own look. A look that, even if you do something so radically out of the norm for you, people can look at it and say, "Wow, I can't believe so-and-so did something so crazy". That's where I'd like to be.

Of course, in animation, it's not so much about having your own style, but about expressing a character's emotions, thought process, and movement across the screen. But I still struggle with getting to that point where my animation is seamless and feels organic and "right".