I came into the Graphic Design program with some fairly strong drawing skills.
You don’t have to be a visual artist to be a graphic designer but I definitely found that it really helped me produce well thought out pieces. When I was younger, almost all of my drawings were from photographs, I had a hard time thinking of an idea and actually being able to draw it, and have it look the way I wanted without looking at something. I always saw imitation as a weakness and never saw myself as a real artist. I thought that if I looked at something, then it was cheating, but over the course of time I realized that the easier it got to draw photos, the easier it became to start drawing on my own. For every copy of a piece I made, I would then draw something in my own style. I also realized fairly recently that there is nothing wrong with using references for your art. I would never have known how to draw the face of an Orangutan, my animal portrait probably would have ended up looking like a strange unknown species of primate if I hadn’t collected photos and studied them.
In order to make a drawing better, you have to know light sources, shading, and you need to know the specific characteristics of whatever it is that you’re drawing. The only way you can learn that is to practice drawing those things. Coming up with your ideas may be easy but you have to practice if you want to put them on paper properly.
Even when you have strong skills, never give in and think that its good enough the way it is. There is ALWAYS room for improvement, the harder you are on your own art, the better you will become as an artist.
An ink piece I completed in my own style in my drawing class this semester, it was done with indian ink and micro pens.
Fun with Primates
For this project we were required to draw four separate black and white images each to do with the animal of our choice rendered in specific styles.
•The first, a portrait done only in circles and half circles.
•The second, was the animals geographical location. I was required to do this using only lines of different thicknesses and weights, going only one way. I had to find a way to create depth, it was by far the hardest square to draw.
•Third, the creature in its immediate habitat done using only thick shapes.
•The fourth and final square was of the creatures food, I was only allowed to use one line weight and I had to try and make the fruit look 3D without crosshatching or thick shading in certain areas.
It was a very fun project for me, I love challenges!
I took photography in high school, I learned very little about how to actually work a camera properly or what makes a beautiful picture. My favourite part of high school photography was the dark room.
Yes, back when I was in high school they still had darkrooms where we would develop our rolls of film. There was something eery and beautiful about standing that red lit room, watching the picture I had snapped, slowly start to appear right in front of you.
We were required to take photography for first and second semester this year. I didn’t really care about photography until I was into my second semester. Thats when I really began to understand how the camera works and how to use the settings properly in manual mode. Suddenly a whole other world opened up for me. It felt like almost overnight photography became almost as important to me as drawing. A lot of it had to do with my teacher, if you see someone that skilled, who is that passionate about their job and excited to share his knowledge, you really have no choice but to fall in love with photography.
Its a great thing to capture a perfect moment and get a chance to be taken right back to the feelings you felt in a particular moment, the smells or sounds you experienced or to capture the true likeness of a loved one with just a click of a button.
This is the first project I did in my illustration class.
One of the things I enjoy most about creating art is filling my page full of lots of little details, I pride myself on it. Initially this class was very hard for me, I don’t like over simplifying things. I always viewed simple art as weak or lazy work, it feels so unfinished to me. I chose a portrait with lots of beautiful little details in it and I poured my time into this piece, first hand rendering each specific style and then putting it into the computer (Yes, there is an easier way to create something similar to this on the computer but it was a requirement to hand render the images first). My teacher recognized it was a struggle for me to leave out detail and gently through out the course of the semester encouraged me to make my work simpler. Over time I really made an effort to try and simplify my work so that I could be more well rounded as an artist and a designer. Its been a struggle, I will never stop loving detailed artwork, but simplicity definitely has a big place in the world of design.
Second semester has ended for all the students in my graphic design course, all but me.
For my last project of the semester I was required to work on a collaborative project with a group of second year students. The girl I got paired with is great designer, and even though I don’t really care much for group work, I found myself looking forward to collaborating with her.As the due date for this project grew closer, I still had not received her portion of the work. I asked several times about her progress on the project and each time she admitted that, it really just wasn’t a priority for her, but she promised would get to it just as soon as she finished “this one last assignment”. Instead of getting impatient and irritable, I was very polite and understanding. Even though my own due dates were fast approaching, I tried to be as helpful as I could be, I provided her with links to sources and all kinds of useful information on the topic. Needless to say, I didn’t receive the document I needed until the the DAY my project was due and the content in it was the exact opposite of what I needed. I ended up having to redo a large portion of my project, thankfully my professor was understanding and gave me an extension so I could revamp the project. You can imagine how disappointed I was to spend the weekend everyone else had off, toiling away on a project that should have already been done.
As I bitterly worked away correcting my project, reality hit me. This was not the last time something like this will happen to me, in fact, my whole career I will probably face many challenges that are very similar to this one and maybe one day, I won’t have a boss that is as understanding as my professor. You would think this reality would stress me out, but for some reason I drew comfort from it.
Knowing what to expect, or rather what not to expect, made me more aware of my one responsibilities as a group member.
One of the lessons I learned from this experience is that there is such a thing as being too understanding. I should have found a way to tactfully tell her to make this project a priority and I didn’t. Lately I’ve been finding that the times when I really don’t want to speak up are the times when it seems to be the most necessary. I didn’t want to rock the boat, and it jeopardized my success in the course.
My professor told my class early in first semester that the more more mistakes you make early on, the quicker you learn and the better you become. It might sound silly, but I almost feel stronger for having had such a poor experience.
It is the job of graphic designers to communicate our thoughts and ideas, as well as the thoughts and ideas of others. We do this using some text, but mostly we do this through a series of visual elements that speak to our audience.
So why do we need to improve our writing skills as designers if most of what we do is done with very little text? The obvious answer of course is that with very little text there is very little room for error. Spelling and grammar are incredibly important when designing for others. However, I’ve been slowly discovering that is not the only reason for improving your writing skills in the design world.
A great writer uses descriptive words to fill our minds with beautiful images; a graphic designer should be able to evoke the same response from their audience, only in reverse. Some would argue that you don’t need to be a good writer to be a good designer, but I believe our ability to be descriptive greatly impacts our visual work. Beautifully written pieces and words that challenge you to think are very inspirational, which is why I’ve been starting to focus more of my energy on expanding my vocabulary.
Over the last several months I’ve started making little changes in the way I write and speak; one of these changes includes using a Thesaurus to change words in my essays that I thought were too repetitive or boring. I also started a page in my notebook where I write down different words that I find interesting that others have used in conversation. Expanding my vocabulary isn’t just about translating words into something visual, it’s also about being able to articulate myself properly. I want my clients and colleagues to feel confident in me and my work. First impressions are very important in this field of work; I want to make sure mine to be as professional as possible.
I’m always looking for ways to make learning fun. I hate just reading and repeating from a book, so I looked online and I found a fun resource that helps test your vocabulary: http://www.vocabulary.com . Anyone who is interested in expanding their vocabulary should take a peak at this site. It’s a fun way to get started in the right direction!
I stumbled across Kseniya Simonova’s work over a year ago.
The first piece of hers I saw was for a TV show in the UK, Ukraine’s Got Talent. I find her work beautiful and very inspirational. I love watching the scenes change and connect together with just a few strokes of her hand.
Seeing unique forms of art like hers makes me feel as though an artists work is never done, it is my job as a designer to never stop creating and learning new and unusual ways to express thought and emotion.
You can find out more about her and her work on her website: http://simonova.tv/en/