Saturday, September 25, 2010

Super Creatives, Djing, Graphic Design, Comic Books

I spent the day searching for interesting fonts to reload my font book. It's not all comics and toys for me. Sometimes I take on freelance pixel pushing gigs. In this case I'm working on some toy packaging design. The rate was great and I actually dig the product so although I don't consider pure graphic design my forte' I am enjoying the process of creating the packaging. It's part of the broader idea of creative communication that I fancy myself to be a part of.

Before I launch into my main subject of graphic design and comics I wanted to a take a minute to talk about something that I don't think is discussed enough in the creative world. I think we are in the midst of the era of the "Super Creative". Let me roll it back 7 or 8 years ago. I was on a flight to Paris from Los Angeles and I had just spent over a month in Singapore. I was beginning to see a this emerging trend of creative people that because of the computers and the freedom and sheer amount of available information available on the web were learning faster and mastering their first creative ability and moving on to second and third creative skill sets. I could see that this was a global phenomena that was going to even the playing field in terms of access to learning and high end out put of creative materials. All that would be left was the "idea" as in who had the best idea. As opposed to in the past where it was about who had access to learning/polished skill sets and who could promote their work best or who was local to a creative industry. Now companies are willing to have a design house in India create work for a toy manufactured in China to be sold to people in Kansas. I didn't think how price would become the dominating factor in the future but I was just in such awe of the idea of a global artistic movement. Back to the me on the plane. I was sitting next to a French photographer/musician who I struck up a conversation with. I showed him some of the comics I had made and we talked about making art, music and film. He said you are a "Hyper Artist". I thought at first he meant that I had ADD but he soon explained what he really meant was that I was an artist that was chasing different creative disciplines.

On the rest of the flight it dawned on me that I was part of a bridge generation of artists that had studied under or grew up with artists that lived by the idea of "be great at one thing" school of thought. I think this worked well for them because pre-digital you needed many hands to make up for the time it took to create Comics, Film, Music, Design but with the computer it cut those times or in some cases cut those steps out altogether. Each one of those steps used to be manned by an artist that took pride in their work and their craft. Now they were manned by a computer and an ambitious artist. We were seeing the consolidation of the creative process and the empowering of the single creative person. It was like jumping from holding a pistol to holding an M-16. The amount of creative firepower you could bring to bare on a single piece was staggering.

Back to graphic design. I equate Djing with Graphic Design. Djs are always looking for new beats Graphic Designers are always looking for new fonts. Both Graphic Designers and Dj's are always trying to find the right mix of elements blended together to generate an emotional response. The output is different but the mental and creative space is the same. When I got involved in comics everyone would tell me "Comics are not about graphic design they are about clarity." No overlapping panels etc. I don't think anyone would have predicted the amount of visual input people would be taking in and how savvy the average reader has become in regards to graphic design. Graphic design as pure communication it is exactly what comics are. There is an emotional current under the visuals that influences and promotes the text and in some cases works on a pure iconic level conveying much more than any work could do. I still think clarity is important because Comics are about the stories but at the same time there is room for the Comic book equivalent of Drum and Bass music. Not everything is easy listening or easy viewing. The older I get the more I want a challenge in the work I see, read, hear. I always have to remind myself that not everyone shares those tastes. It's like the DJ that doesn't want to play Rob Base "It Takes Two" at a wedding. Sometimes you have to consider the audience and the venue or in the case of Comics who is the intended reader for your work.

I think many artists start with the idea "what do I want to read" and they hope it resonates with people. I think that can work on a small scale. If you look at the big picture of creative communication it's the idea of finding common ground through your story on a human level as opposed to searching for common ground based on your perception of self or your tastes based on the work you've been exposed to. The old saying "write what you know." means write about the truths you believe in or the experiences you've had. Those truths can be put into a new fantastic context but they are still ideas you understand and believe in. I think creators that are starting out and many that have been around for a long time think "writing what you know." is actually "write versions of stories you know or remember from when you were a kid." Which I think leads to a cycle of regurgitated patchwork media that undermines your true voice.

That's it for now. Back to looking for interesting fonts and remixing this package design.



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