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Thinking Outside of the Art Box

Thinking Outside of the Art Box

Due to its convenience and the innovation for experimentation that computer tools have given designers over the last few decades, it makes it appear as if graphic design relies on the computer. This is a misconception often made by those who aren’t designers and who don’t fully understand the history of design. The computer is just one of our many tools we can use to design and communicate our ideas. Graphic design existed long before the computer was created, but now for the generations who were born into the computer/internet age, its hard to imagine how old school designers created the amazing work they did by hand. Although its convenient now that we can create all of our work on the computer, it doesn’t mean we only have to work on the computer.

What I’m trying to say here is, by choosing to solely create your design solutions via computer graphics programs, it can limit your possibilities for producing truly unique and original work. There can be better solutions to a visual problem out there that might not even cross your mind if you are only working in Illustrator all of the time. Looking through the recent Computer Arts Projects issue 124 on “The Art of Typography,” I discovered some inspiring work from designers who are taking a different approach to design through tactile and hand constructed typography to environmental, anamorphic typography. I feel that because so much work is created on the computer today, designers are trying to find unique solutions by going back to the basics and getting more in touch with a hands on approach.

Here are some inspiring creatives who are taking this approach of design outside of the computer screen:

Craig Ward

Project: You Blow Me Away
In this project, Ward screenprinted type onto 20 sheets of 7mm glass and used a catapult to fire various objects through the glass while photographer Jason Tozer captured the shots.



Project: Creative Review
Ward uses anamorphosis inspired by work from Swiss artist Felice Varini and creates the letters CR out of tape.



Project: Hairy Alphabet
Ward was inspired to create this typeface while getting a haircut. He noticed the fallen hairs on the floor created a vague shape of a letter. He asked the barber for some hair, bagged it, and scanned hair into in the computer. This project first involves a hands on approach—gathering actual hair clippings before creating them into letterforms on the computer.


Axel Peemoeller

Project: Eureka Tower car park signage
Way-finding signage for the Eureka Tower car park in Melbourne, Australia using anamorphosis.





Karina Petersen

Project: A Three Dimensional Typeface
Another project applying anamorphosis to typography.



Marian Bantjes

Project: Flaunt Magazine cover
Marian Bantjes goes back basics and uses a fine art approach to designing the cover of Flaunt magazine with an oil painting.



Project: Stephen Sagmeister: Sugar
Bantjes was asked by Stephen Sagmeister to contribute to his “Things I have learned in my life so far,” and creates tyopgraphic work out of sugar.




Yulia Brodskaya

Brodskaya does typographic work out of paper cut illustrations.




Jonas Valtysson

Project: Sequences
In collaboration with Siggi Odds, Sven Davids, and Mundi, Valtysson used real-time art to create this typographic poster for a multimedia real-time art festival in Reykjavik.
Valtysson poured milk to create the letterforms.


I know there’s tons more of examples of designers out there who are doing cool hands on work, but this is all I can think of right now. Do you know of any designers doing experimental design with a hands on approach that you would like to share? I hope this post can give designers a few new fresh ideas and inspire them to come up with new ways to approach projects.



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