What can designers learn from painters?

Graphic design is more about organization.  Painting is usually more about expression.  A balance of organization and expression in art and design leads to successful outcomes.

Edge quality in painting is a big deal.

It’s one of those things that separate the good from the best.  The edge quality in graphic design is often hard edge due to the nature of the tools.  Photographic images incorporated into your layout as a design element can totally transform your work from an austere crisp graphic to something that is more expressive and appealing. This will keep your audience looking at your message longer.

All lines are not created equal.

Good line quality is important because it can support the visual communication of an idea from a poster or website. Painters use tools that immediately allow them more expression in contrast to a designer who usually works digitally and spends a lot of the time with hard edge picture boxes.  It may not be appropriate for every project but when possible, experimenting with line quality can dramatically impact the quality of your designs.

Pictured left to right: Chinese Reader for Beginners, With Exercises in Writing and Speaking James C. Nute, Arthur P. Lites, Stanford, California, 1942.  Lines, M Plus M Incorporated, New York, New York, 1991 and Endangered (series of six posters)
Sommese Design, State College, Pennsylvania, 1993.

What’s a compositional shape anyway?

At at the most rudimentary level, designers begin a layout by thinking in very graphic terms about the content, including proportion and compositional shapes.  How creative one can be with their compositional shapes and proportions depends on their ability to see and comprehend proportions. Many times when a design is lacking that special sauce, an adjustment to proportions is all that is needed.

For designs with character that stand out from the cookie cutter template solutions proliferating our visual field, think line quality, edge quality and keep up your drawing. For additional design resources visit the AIGA Archives.

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