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  • Traditional Art Arrogance

    I didn't intend for my first post to be a negative, but something happened yesterday which just pushed me too far.

    Let me start with a bit of my background.

    I started off as a game designer, specifically modelling and texturing. Then the game design industry in Australia pretty much died in the space of two years after the American economy dropped, and all the major dev studios closed their doors. AAA titles are no longer produced here. Anyway, I reskilled for a career in GD, and have been working in a studio part time.

    There's this guy in the studio who has a few more years experience than me, and thats fine, but what really annoys me is his attitude toward digital artists. He told me that designers who can't or don't draw well aren't well rounded designers. I replied by saying that graphic design and illustration are two separate career paths, and if you try don't focus on being great at either, you will end up being just okay at both.

    He said that computer-created design is "easy" (he doesn't even know what faces and vertices are (3D design terms)) and that design "all starts with pencil and paper". I replied by pointing out that you can get work as a GD without being able to draw a stick figure, but you can't get any work unless your knowledge of design programs is solid.

    He kept rambling on, and I wanted to ask him "Hey, can you model a human head in 3D? No? Not much a designer are you?", but I didn't see the point.

    This guy is not the first GD I've met who has this opinion of being a "real" designer because he likes to use pencil and paper. I concept with quick drawings too, but I use a Wacom and Photoshop, mainly because if I'm half way through the concept, and I make a mistake, I don't have ugly smudge lines on the concept from erasing it, and I find it faster because I can't undo mistakes. It also means I don't have to scan and then go over the pencil lines (saving time), and I can export the concept directly to a digital file.

    Anyway, I have no problem with other people concepting any way they see fit, but I am really sick of traditional artists and their snobbery. I've noticed this mainly comes from people who were educated before the digital age, and I suspect its sometimes a response based on insecurity, because they are not as familiar and at ease with digital art as people who grew up with it, so they cover that feeling of being obsolete by deriding it as "lesser" art.

    Does anybody have any experience with this type of attitude in the industry, or have another perspective on it?

  • #2
    Hello PixelPassionWelcome to GDF!

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    The flip side is that because of your reflective attitude towards this person, somewhere they are probably having an equal conversation about you thinking you know it all before you've done anything.

    I started out in Fine Arts, graduated, then decided to focus on design, went to school and graduated again. Does knowing how to draw help a designer? Considerably. Does it matter what you use to throw down rough concepts, well not really, most pencil/paper minded designers simply believe so because pencil forces you to work in black and white (pos and negative). The idea is to avoid pigeon holing into one line of thinking by limiting access to tools with singular purposes.

    I usually do my comps with my wacom tablet, but I do bring the sketchbook to client meetings.

    It's a good thing you didn't ask that question, you'd just appear defensive and insecure.

    Also it is often quite apparent when a design has been conceptualized on a computer and when one hasn't. Now if you're using the brush/pencil tool set to black only then I don't see the issue, but the moment you go for a shape tool font or gradient is where it becomes obvious where the concept originated
    Last edited by kemingMatters; 03-03-2014, 02:56 PM.
    Design is not decoration.

    Comment


    • #3
      As someone who predates the whole computer era of design, I feel perfectly comfortably in both worlds. Being able to draw is a nice skill to have, but it's not essential for every aspect of design.

      Sketching with pencil and paper enables a person to quickly jot visual ideas down and modify them intuitively without a computer or a lot of analytical thinking getting in the way. If you can do the same thing with a drawing tablet, that's fine.

      There's a more fundamental consideration, though. Way too many new designers depend on the software to do their thinking for them. And way too many older designers don't take sufficient advantage of what computers are capable of doing. I think there's some defensiveness and lack of appreciation on both sides. The bottom line is that tools, whether pencils, software or whatever, enable a designer to create what he/she envisions, but the design itself is the result of what takes place in the designer's mind.

      Comment


      • #4
        <b> nailed it. I was a traditional artist, and got into graphic design, and dabbled in 3d as well. Having both sets of tools has made me better on both sides.
        .

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for the input guys.

          I totally appreciate the skill required to create detailed traditional art, as my mother has been a painter/illustrator/sculptor for 40 years. I also think how much time you put into it depends on the area of design you want to specialise in. For me, its UI design, which means being able to hand-render a human face is far less useful to me than understanding how to create a layout which intuitively guides the user through a series of screens and obviously directing icons. Also taking the time to understand how Android and iOS (not actually coding) work in order to create an effective, ligible, and smooth UI.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think some individuals might act arrogant, because they are a bit insecure. Like I remember some traditional film photographers were with the rise of digital photography. I recall hearing some angrily saying that digital photography made it too easy, and now anyone could just snap any picture and make it look good in software. Which we known is not really true. The digital darkroom is a different skill, but many traditional photographers soon discovered, that their experience in film gave them an edge in using digital. Of course the rules of good composition and lighting etc, never changed. The same is true of graphic design, the method of creating it might have changed, but that does not necessarily make digital design "easier," it has its own challenges as we know, and we still rely on all the same tried and true principles that have always made design successful.
            .

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            • #7
              I find almost all new designers seem to be limited by their software. Also old designers who are 'new' to software.
              The idea with sketching is to not let whatever limitations you may have with the software keep you from designing something. You may have to research how to make the computer do what you visualize in your head but the important step is to visualize it first.

              I've also found it is painfully obvious when a designer doesn't have the most rudimentary of visual rendering skills (drawing, not computer rendering.) Even something as simple as light direction is often ignored by those unskilled in representational drawing, let alone the talent it takes to retouch images when needed.

              3D work gives you a different view. So, your coworker may not be able to create a model of a human head in a 3D program but he may have more research and technical theoretical skills than you when needed for creating a design that works to solve a client's design challenge. Graphic Design is not about software. It's about solving the unique challenge of selling what your client needs to sell, whatever that may be. The solution isn't always the same solution that worked before for someone else. That comes some from theory and more from experience and observation. Graphic Design isn't about you, your art or your software skills. It's all about the client. If you do not improve your client's ROI, you have failed as a designer.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by PrintDriver View Post
                I find almost all new designers seem to be limited by their software. Also old designers who are 'new' to software.
                The idea with sketching is to not let whatever limitations you may have with the software keep you from designing something. You may have to research how to make the computer do what you visualize in your head but the important step is to visualize it first.

                I've also found it is painfully obvious when a designer doesn't have the most rudimentary of visual rendering skills (drawing, not computer rendering.) Even something as simple as light direction is often ignored by those unskilled in representational drawing, let alone the talent it takes to retouch images when needed.

                3D work gives you a different view. So, your coworker may not be able to create a model of a human head in a 3D program but he may have more research and technical theoretical skills than you when needed for creating a design that works to solve a client's design challenge. Graphic Design is not about software. It's about solving the unique challenge of selling what your client needs to sell, whatever that may be. The solution isn't always the same solution that worked before for someone else. That comes some from theory and more from experience and observation. Graphic Design isn't about you, your art or your software skills. It's all about the client. If you do not improve your client's ROI, you have failed as a designer.
                I understand what you are saying, but dismissing knowledge of software as unimportant fails to take into account that you simply can't be a designer without them. Software doesn't require skill, but it does require knowledge and memory, and because they have so many features, and are so massive these days, they take years to master to a point where you don't have to think before performing a technique or action.

                I agree that being able to concept without software is important, as you might not always have access to a desktop or laptop right away, but knowledge of the programs is as vital to a design career as creativity itself. If your software knowledge is poor, you are slow, unsure, and you won't hold any design job for very long.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I don't dismiss software knowledge as unimportant.
                  I just don't think one's creativity should be defined, or hampered, by software.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I just don't understand why anybody would be mad at anybody else for "not knowing" traditional or "not knowing" digital. I just don't understand it. I love every and anything design and multimedia and I use traditional, 2D digital, and 3D all to my benefit. Today, having a knowledge of 3D and 2D got me through an illustration quickly, and with relative accuracy.

                    That being said; at the end of the day I always find my raw ideas popping out onto traditional pencil and paper (even if it's a napkin and a pen while enjoying a cold beer).

                    Furthermore, my fiance the Architect is constantly telling me tha the wishes he knew how to draw so he COULD work his ideas down on paper (of course.. he still doesn't even try to get the hang of it).

                    Would it REALLY hurt you to pick up a pencil and paper and just doodle/practice?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PrintDriver View Post
                      I don't dismiss software knowledge as unimportant.
                      I just don't think one's creativity should be defined, or hampered, by software.
                      Agreed, but not everyone finds it a restriction.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dragondreamer View Post
                        I just don't understand why anybody would be mad at anybody else for "not knowing" traditional or "not knowing" digital. I just don't understand it. I love every and anything design and multimedia and I use traditional, 2D digital, and 3D all to my benefit. Today, having a knowledge of 3D and 2D got me through an illustration quickly, and with relative accuracy.

                        That being said; at the end of the day I always find my raw ideas popping out onto traditional pencil and paper (even if it's a napkin and a pen while enjoying a cold beer).

                        Furthermore, my fiance the Architect is constantly telling me tha the wishes he knew how to draw so he COULD work his ideas down on paper (of course.. he still doesn't even try to get the hang of it).

                        Would it REALLY hurt you to pick up a pencil and paper and just doodle/practice?
                        I find it laughable that traditional types look down on digital artists as having less skill when learning how to 3D model like a pro takes just as long as it does to draw like one. They are all tools. Choice of tools is irrelevent as long as the end result is of the same quality, and meets the desired goal.

                        Its rooted in fear of technology, and the inability, or refusal to master it. My mother is like this. She's a very gifted painter, but gets frustrated and confused trying to use my Samsung Galaxy S4, even though 5 year old children can do so. Fine art and GD are two very different things.

                        I draw things I enjoy drawing, such as Marvel/DC characters, but I'm not going to become a fine artist, nor do I want to become one. My specialisation is an an area which does not require a lot of traditional skills, so spending lots of time honing those skills isn't going help me, it will just take away from time needed to better my specialised area. Also, people work differently, as brains are different from one individual to another. I can visual almost complete layouts in my head, and adjust those layouts without touching a pencil or computer.

                        I wouldn't go ahead with a design just based on visualisation, but I can do it well enough to give me a strong direction to go in. Not everyone can do this, so they need to draw up multiple concepts on paper/Photoshop first. Its one of the things which frustrated me in school, drawing 20 different variant concepts when I had already done it mentally, and had chosen one I was happy with out of the first 5 or 6. Sure, any visualised concept needs refinement and some adjustment on paper/screen, but for some of us, a lot of the concept work can be done in the head,

                        I guess this is what annoys me, my co-worker looking down on me like he's the better designer, when he can't even visualise 1/10th as well as I can, but I don't make him feel bad for it.

                        Comment


                        • kemingMatters
                          kemingMatters commented
                          Editing a comment
                          So, for example, when you manipulate a photo, do you understand where the light sources are coming from? or what colours should refract onto which surfaces? or how/where shadows should fall on the surroundings? perspective? All of these little details are the difference between looking "shopped" or not. I can tell you that 3D modelling software does all that for you which is great when you're working with 3D objects, but when you compiling an image of 2D objects that need to look 3D your up shit creek because they are not things you have to really think about. Regardless of tool, you still need to understand the principles that work behind the tool so, we "traditional types" just understand that not understanding "traditional" theory is the Achilles heel of most budding designers of the digital era.

                          I don't believe there is a fear of technology, or "refusal to master it" rather there is less of a need to use it than you perceive.

                      • #13
                        Originally posted by PixelPassion View Post
                        I guess this is what annoys me, my co-worker looking down on me like he's the better designer, when he can't even visualise 1/10th as well as I can, but I don't make him feel bad for it.
                        Someone accuses you of being somehow deficient because you have your way of doing things that doesn't match up with theirs. In turn, you make accusations of people being technophobes who are simply being defensive about their lack of digital abilities.

                        You have your points of view, others have theirs and it's no big deal. You both seem to have made this into a polarized and defensive dispute that fails to consider both sides as having degrees of merit.

                        Finally, you're coming across as overly worked up and defensive about this whole thing. If you're so sure you're right, why does it matter all that much what this other person thinks? Could he be that he's touching on a sensitive issue with you? Or maybe not. I have no way of knowing.

                        Comment


                        • garricks
                          garricks commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Well said.

                      • #14
                        The reality is if you have the ability to express your thoughts on a sheet of paper, you can collaborate any time any where. I am no stranger to using a tablet and stylus, and have likely been using one for longer than you have been working as a designer. (just guessing) While I can concept on a tablet, the speed and flexibility I have on paper is much greater. 99% of those drawings never find their way to be digitized. If I was working on a project with someone who insisted on visualizing in their head, I would ask for a new team member.

                        Also, for me as a freelancer, I have found a added benefit to hand sketches. When I hand sketch layouts and such, clients focus on the layouts. If I mockup stuff on the computer invariability, they will get caught up in stylistic elements. "I don't like that font." " I like shadows behind the text." "Can we try different borders and colors?" Then you have to explain, this is just a layout, and typefaces, and other style elements will be added later. If you add all those things to mockups you are wasting time because all but one will be discarded. I have also noticed that when clients have worked with me on paper, they ask for far fewer revisions later on. This is to such an extent that I have even "cheated" from time to time, when I decided to design directly on the computer first, I print out the lines very lightly and then sketch over them to show clients or scan it back in to email it. There is a psychology involved that makes people feel like hand drawings are flexible, but computer drawings are set in concrete, and they feel like they have to demand small changes right now before it is too late. It just kills creativity in my opinion.

                        Anyway with everything you have been saying, I am starting to wonder who is really being arrogant. Seriously that comment about your mother?
                        .

                        Comment


                        • dragondreamer
                          dragondreamer commented
                          Editing a comment
                          You know it's the same with me Skribe; my sketchpad+pencils+t-square have a permanent home in my car for that reason. It's particularly useful when I think I'll be "stuck" waiting somewhere. Sometimes I even force myself to go somewhere without the computer just so I sit down and focus on concept-sketching.

                        • garricks
                          garricks commented
                          Editing a comment
                          "There is a psychology involved that makes people feel like hand drawings are flexible, but computer drawings are set in concrete, and they feel like they have to demand small changes right now before it is too late."

                          I never thought about it this way, but I agree with you. Makes perfect sense.

                        • PrintDriver
                          PrintDriver commented
                          Editing a comment
                          "There is a psychology involved that makes people feel like hand drawings are flexible, but computer drawings are set in concrete, and they feel like they have to demand small changes right now before it is too late."

                          This may be the most perfect observation I have seen that describes today's design world. It may offer a key to some workflow issues with some clients I have. Problem is, I'm far too late into the design process to have an effect. Hmmmmm.....

                      • #15
                        I think that people default to their own personal comfort zones. Your coworker was taught a certain way, it's what he knows most, what he's comfortable with and it's what he'll automatically do first. Of course he'll defend it, the same way you defend your way of doing things. I doubt you're going to meet anyone who will see how you do things and suddenly declare that everything they've ever known and done is wrong. It's human nature to hold on to and defend your own way. We are all such selfish creatures, we tend to think the choices we make for ourselves are also the best choices for others. No bend, no give and take. It's unfortunate that your coworker is reacting in such a negative way, when he could take interest in your expertise and learn something. And I'm sure you could learn something from him.
                        Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.

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