Visual designer & Creative Lead

Design is an art form


I've spent some time reflecting on my work as a visual designer and the traces I leave behind in my work. In many ways, I share the common ground of artists. The similarities are that we both create a message which is meant to evoke something within the viewer, while the difference is that it's not personal, never the less, it's my interpretation of the client's message.

The old (or antique even) title for what I do is Commercial Artist, while the modern one is Visual Designer, or just: Visual. A Commercial Artist of the time would be a trained artist that needed to supplement their artistic incomes with commissioned work. A 2018 Visual Designer, on the other hand, is more likely to perfecting the design journey rather than just perfecting a one-off piece.

Even if designing is a method, it carries traces of artistic elements and values from the designer, and if you can see the connection between art and design, you are more likely to understand the importance of choosing the right designer for your project.

One of the brightest (and probably most obvious) examples of a company that understands this is Apple. A lot of their success is owed to their chief designer Jonathan Ive who helped shape the design DNA for Apple as we know it.

Jonathan in his turn is influenced by Dieter Rams who was the chief designer of Braun. Mr Rams formed a design philosophy; the Good design principles. It's a list of ten paragraphs which was meant to help guide his team while designing. Aesthetics is one of these principles. However, Dieter vaguely describes this principle as "Only well-executed objects can be beautiful", which leads us back to the personal traces from the designer, something that is beyond a method but rather an artistic skill.

As a finishing note, I wish to share a film where the legendary Paul Rand explains his view of visual (graphic) design. Keep in mind that Paul is the creator of the IBM logo and he also was hired by Steve Jobs in the mid-80s for the brand identity of NeXT Computer.

Tobias Pettersson