Michael Bierut on T-Squares, rubber cement and becoming a designer.

08pre_650Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

THE technology we have at our disposal is dazzling, and our efficiency is such that clients expect fast solutions and nearly instantaneous updates. We are proud to deliver them. Still, I wonder if we haven’t lost something in the process: the deliberation that comes with a slower pace, the attention to detail required when mistakes can’t be undone with the click of a mouse. Younger designers hearing me talk this way react as if I’m getting sentimental about the days when we all used to churn our own butter.

Drawing Board to the Desktop: A Designer’s Path, by Michael Bierut

(via designobserver)

16 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Although I love computers and technology,
    I have to agree with mr. Bierut.
    What happened to craftmanship?
    I graduated as an architect last year,
    and I can’t even draw properly.
    Nobody ever taught me that!

  2. To this day I keep my Deluxe GRAPHIC proportion dial and my Schaedler Rule next to my monitor. And hey you can always play air guitar with your t-square!

  3. I think Mr. Bierut makes a valid point, but we live in a world where designers use computers. We aren’t going to suddenly give up technology and go back to mocking up everything on boards with rubber cement and t-squares.

    So rather than simply yearn for the past, why not offer some ideas on how we might work craftsmenship back into the modern design process. Seems more useful than simply writing an article about how great things used to be.

  4. i think this is a nice sentiment. his idea of a slower pace and time for deliberation speaks to more than just design process and maybe about our culture in general… nice article.

  5. But it’s not like t-squares, compasses, eraser shields, light-boxes, etc. are from that long ago.

    Maybe we shouldn’t think of the shift as such a permanent thing? If fashion and music can make what was old new again, then why can’t graphic design do the same for grid paper and s-curves?

  6. To be in a slow pace, we need a slow pace demands from our clients.
    A clients that love to see and be part of the process instead of merely demanding the end results send via email.

  7. i feel so privileged to have been able to start photography in a darkroom and my design with wax cards, photstats, and nonrepro blue. i was the kid in the art department and the only one there who knew how to use a computer, so i was trained in analog by the old guard and was auto-didactic in digital.

  8. I’m a college student in design, and I’ve heard this sort of thing from many of my professors. I’m glad I was able to have a strong foundation in drawing and “hands on” craftsmenship in high school. I wish it were required of any designer getting into the business. I’m tired of people owning a couple of programs and calling themselves a designer.

  9. I’m an industrial design student at Georgia Tech and I really have to agree that something has been lost in the transition to digital. I am very thankful that while the school is incredibly technology-driven, my first year hear consisted of learning to draft, how to draw quick gestures, how to apply value with charcoal, developing good practices in using perspective, and framing your subjects. Now, further along in the program, I find myself increasingly sitting in front of a computer with Photoshop and SolidWorks open. There is no way that I could survive without Ctrl+Z.

    This semester however I have an “old-school” instructor who will pin up his old marker and pen drawings, handcrafted with a care and attention to detail that are leagues beyond what our studio commonly produces. I feel the problem is that while we can work faster, we can’t think nearly as quickly as our tools can. We need to slow down and work on our ideas at the pace required to produce good design.

  10. My dream retirement would involve a wonderful log cabin in the mountains. Who needs a beach?

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