Yves Saint Laurent is also well known for saying "A designer who is not also a couturier, who hasn't learned the most refined mysteries of physically creating his models, is like a sculptor who gives his drawings to another man, an artisan, to accomplish."
In this regard, graphic design's "models" are communication, semantics, and, if grasped, semiotics. Wikipedia states that:
Graphic design is the applied art of arranging image and text to communicate a message. It may be applied in any media, such as print, digital media, motion pictures, animation, product decoration, packaging, and Information_signs. Graphic design as a practice can be traced back to the origin of the written word, but only in the late 19th century did it become identified as a separate entity.
The fundamental principles of design are alignment, balance, color, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, proportion, proximity, repetition, rhythm, texture, unity, and white space.
Those listed principles are our tools, just as a seamstress utilises her thread and needle, and as a mason makes use of brick and mortar. I've tried touching on this before in entries (too lazy to look for them… wait no, here is one of many) and on Tim Boucher's site, too, I'm sure. Raein has put enough of a spin on this to allow me to look at it from yet a slightly different angle, yet again. My thinking on this was also inspired by watching My Architect, on Louis I. Khan, and how people would claim that he had managed to capture a greatness in his buildings, in his architectural designs. That "God was in the details," as someone said in regards to his work.
We are to work with context. If a designer is not capable of shifting context and learning to use context as just another principle, another tool, then they are not truly of the craft. It's easy to lay something out, but to capture that essence that YVS speaks of, the spirit that Raein may be looking for, this is our craft. We breathe life into the lifeless. And by doing so, we look into the face of the ineffable — of G@D? — in that we are magicians of a different order. By sculpting context, we can entrain users to imbue our design with life. If following at all by quantum mechanics or some fancy-schmancy sounding field like phenomenological existentialism, really any field to do with intersubjective observer-created realities, by the power to imbue the design with the life that others are led to lend it, do we not encroach closer and closer to the field of sorcery and shamanism?
In Raein's post, he speaks of a lecture he went to decades ago where Judith Williamson, of Decoding Advertising (1978) fame, "accuses David Simpson of deception and exploiting this group of people. In [his] notes from the lecture [Raein has] the gist of her point; [his] notes say 'She accuses him of deception. She insinuates that it is better to leave people in a deluded state rather than to expose them to a hoax and test their beliefs.' There [his] notes dwindle out. [He stopped] writing and start spluttering with disbelief at her assertions." (The lecture was a conference on Patterns of Belief in a Scientific Age held by the Institute for Cultural Research in London.)
Raein goes on to say:—
We are constantly attempting to define and distinguish ourselves from ‘those others’. The need to witness a UFO or the fantasy of being a character in a film is analogous to the need to be the hero of that story which is our own life. We recount to ourselves the implausible narratives that fulfil our need for the extraordinary. A storyline that demands all the external trappings of costume, accessories and is accompanied by a sound track kindly provided by a little friendly iPod.
The perpetrator of this illusion is the designer, be they fashion, product or graphic designer. Most designers have given up a genuine curiosity for the world around them and don’t even attempt to respond in a meaningful and poignant way to the issues facing them. Instead, they submissively reach for the latest contribution from the trend machine and adjust their ‘design’ by styling it. There are only a minority of designers who actually design, most of them have become stylists.
To be able to alter the world one has to be able to alter oneself. To be transformed through the touchstone of the wondrous insight is the consequence of a deep spiritual need. When life offers us this challenges we often fail to rise to the occasion and, faced with this miserable shortcoming in our character, we turn to the world for an answer.
He ends his post with "I am full of contradictions. I know I am deluded — especially by style — and even knowing this truth, it has not set me free."
This is a sort of wonderful moment for me in that I know I am not alone in my pursuit here and that there is, indeed, a way to approach the spiritual in design. Or perhaps this is the equivalent of a couturier and a seamstress? (WTF is the masculine version of "seamstress"?) I have long thought and wanted to shout out the difference between a graphic designer and a desktop publisher, but generally bite my tongue. Where do I fit? I dunno, I am still a troublemaker in my mind, but all in time as knowledge + experience = wisdom.