Visual creation in the evolving visual culture

“Vincent, you are always talking about how hard you must work. Then why do you waste your time on all those silly French books?”

“I can’t draw a figure,” he said, “without knowing all about the bones and muscles and tendons that are inside it. And I can’t draw a head without knowing what goes inside a person’s brain and soul. In order to paint life, one must understand not only anatomy, but what people feel and think about the world they live in. The painter who knows his own craft and nothing else will turn out to be a very superficial artist.”

This is an excerpt from ‘Lust for Life’ – a biography of famous artist Vincent Van Gogh, by Irving Stone. This conversation between Vincent Van Gogh and his father stuck me and I couldn’t get it out of my head even long after I finished reading the book.

We live in a constant changing and evolving world, a world where the diversity has gone beyond race, color and religion, the once unknown outer space is fast becoming a commercial destination. As a graphic designer, I feel that Van Gogh’s idea of a profound artistic creation stands even stronger today. Only the knowledge of design software or theories or technicalities cannot make one a good designer or any sort of artist. In an environment where tolerance is low and sensitivity is at its all-time high, a designer needs to be more evolved and aware of his/her surroundings.

It is said that the art should speak of its time. For such creations, one needs to have a holistic point of view of things. From entertainment, literature, cultural shifts, technology, human psychology to socio-political scenario, s/he needs to be a know-it-all to stay in the game. Remember how pop-culture references helped little Spidey in Avengers Infinity War? Well, its kind of same here; anything to everything helps.

Talking specifically about graphic design, it needs to be looked at a completely different angle in light of the modern life complexities. The rise of media has led to a 360 degree transformation of the visual culture, making it even more challenging for a designer to stay dated. Merely making pretty visualization won’t do the work; the design shall give the message in the most accepted and effective form. As designers, we shall try to bring depth in our designs. A designer can’t survive without the knowledge of the market and the bigger picture. Take example of Burger King’s mouldy burger ad, the ad looks hideous with picture of an unpalatable 35 days old burger, but they clicked the right nerve of consumers’ hesitation towards preservatives. ‘Moment marketing’ adds further to the challenge; you are either at the top of everything or you lose to your competitors. The content and campaigns change within fraction of hours. In these situations, a designer shall be able to bring more to the table than just the artistic content.
Fortunately, we don’t live in a stone-age. With so much content available around and daily life exposure, ignorance in today’s time is a choice. Inspiration is everywhere, only one needs to keep eyes and ears open.

Even if we aren’t creating master pieces, we shall be able to create atleast something that is timely, contemporary and acceptable by all.     

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