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Print, Data & Web

The Business of Design

I have an immense appreciation for those skilled craftsmen who used the traditional tools of the trade. You know (well, if you're younger than me, perhaps you don't), the manual tools of yesteryear, including, but by no means limited to:

  • Airbrush gun
  • Manual dodging-and-burning tool
  • Exacto knife
  • Rubylith
  • Non-photo blue pencil/pen
  • Real, not virtual, layout pasteboard
  • Waxing machines

Actually, most of the traditional tools of the trade I have failed to list. With the exception of the airbrush tool and the darkroom environment's dodge-and-burn (which is a design tool only if you are a photographer), everything above was the most fundamental of design or layout tools. Most are pretty well gone, although we may always have a need for exacto knives (so may terrorists, I supposed, but I'll not address that issue here.)

From Traditional to Their Digital Equivalent.
So, although today's tools are digital, I do not consider myself merely a technician just because I design primarily on the computer. The Web is littered with sites built by technicians and, I must admit, most of their technical skills likely exceed mine. But I am far more technically oriented than the vast majority of graphic designers who can't troubleshoot their computer system, install RAM modules, or even configure software. But they may well be more skilled graphic artists than I am.

In graphical terms, I consider myself more of a designer than an artist. After all, I began in the creative profession, not as a graphic artist, but as a writer. Corporate America is notorious for its underappreciation of writers, believing that any professional who sits behind a desk can write. That increasingly led me to pursue what I knew most white-collared executives (i.e., suits) could never claim to be: designers. However, some tried to lay claim to that as well, if only because they could leverage their position to impose their designs on those who knew better. But if they truly thought they knew design, why did they not know of the renowned Jan White?

Subsequently, my need to understand the underpinnings of all things I stay involved with led me into the endless world of geekdom. I'll never be the ultimate geek, either, but I believe that I have accumulated, with this collective experience, a rare integration of skills under one cranial roof.

Therein lies my coining of what I consider my particular distinction:

i.d.d.™ — integrated•digital•design.
While I might not represent the acme (zenith?) in any one of the aforementioned disciplines, I have grown up in all of them, to varying degrees, enough to appreciate the importance of their lack of exclusivity when it comes to the finished piece. That is, writing (particularly in professional applications) seldom can succeed apart from presentation or packaging.

Yes, today's "Digital Design" must also be "Integrated Design."

Communication depends on design and the medium in which it is conveyed. They cannot be considered in isolation, but are each components of the communications project as a whole — and all should play a compelling and critical role in the shaping of that communication.

The interrelationship of the written word with the medium and the design considerations particular to that medium can never be ignored.