Graphic Designing: It’s more than just a pretty computer and a shiny printer

As we approach the end end of the school year and I get closer and closer to graduation, tonight I took a huge step forward in my senior MCS capstone project. Not only was it extremely helpful and informative to my research, but the whole thing was eye opening and fascinating! I found myself joking with the graphic designer Kevin, at the end, how I had just learned more in that hour and half than I had in most of my college courses. Needless to say the material was fascinating and the opinions and outlook he had on my project, technology and imagination and how the arts play their role, we even more inspiring than anything a textbook could have to offer me.

Kevin has been in the vinyl decal business for 23 years now. As long as I’ve been alive. I watched as he created a layout of the design on a special software and then began the cutting and printing process with the massive 10 year old printer he kept in his basement. Throught the whole thing, as I watched him print and cut, I was thinking wow so much technology is involved in this, how hard can it be? Well in reality it requires so much more than people think. This is where the imaginative and creative aspect come into play.

As Kevin plainly states throughout our interview and him walking me through all the different techniques and steps: it may look simple because the printer is doing the physical act of providing the physical decal, but no amount of technology will ever be able to do the creating part. He spends hours meticulously creating layouts and designs for his clients, giving them multiple options and at times re-creating designs over and over to please the customer. He said to me that while the technology side of it definitely makes things easier to get the finished result, it does not do the imagining for him. He is the one who has to envision how the final piece will look, purely based off of what someone tells them THEY envision and want the final product to look like. This is not always a skill that can be learned and as he pointed out to me when he was explaining the creative process, sometimes it is just purely innate and can only be gained through experience and a desire to do it and understand it.

When I went in depth with him about my project and began asking him more theoretical questions about what he thought about imagination and technology, he had very simple answers as to how he felt about them. I asked him if he felt that technology hindered his creativity or if it provided more of an outlet for him to share his ideas? For him, especially because graphic design does use quite a bit of technology and the field only modernizes more and more each year, he felt that it does not hinder his imaginative abilities in any way. It helps him get his job done more successfully and to the best of his ability. However, when I asked him if he thought technology makes the line between genuine skill and acquired techniques a bit blurry, he agreed with me in the sense that technology does make it a bit harder these days to weed out the “Picassos” and “Einsteins”.

At the end of the day graphic design work is still an art. It takes skill level, understanding, and a large amount of creativity to be successful and execute a finished product. It takes time, patience, and labor and one has to genuinely love it. Before I left Kevin said to me how excited he still gets when he’s driving and a truck or car will drive by that has his work on it. The feeling never gets old and he takes great pride in the work he creates.