Posted by: Alison Gilbert | May 17, 2010

What is ‘Good Design’ and Does It Still Exist?


  1. Alison,

    I think Jerry Della Famina said it best: “The best thing that ever happened to graphic design is Photoshop. The worst thing that ever happened to graphic design is Photoshop.”

    I’ve been an advertising copywriter for over 25 years and have worked with many a designer who had solid design credentials from such prestigious schools as Parsons, FIT, Cooper Union, etc. They would rightfully bemoan the fact that anyone can now get a “design degree” from a two-year technical school or, as you point out, simply learning the latest software program.

    I face the same weird thinking in my profession. I once had a potential client say, “Well, I took English in college. Why should I hire you to write my brochure when I could do it myself?” My response: “I can balance my checkbook. That doesn’t mean you want me to do your taxes.”

    By the way, I also checked out the FB pages you referred to and couldn’t agree with your assessment more. The Japanese have a word for it, “ma,” meaning “negative space.” Those pages were so overloaded with fonts, colors, graphics, etc., my eyes felt like pinballs.

    As for “giving the client what they want,” our job as creatives is to make the client comfortable enough that they’ll trust our experience and expertise will do just that, only better. If you’re just a “pair of hands,” you do a disservice to everyone involved.

  2. Thanks so much, Gloria for your comment. It is very important to let people who grew up after the era of ‘traditional design’, pre-computer design, pre-clip art this and clip art that, what ‘design’ was all about
    and what it still can be.
    I wonder how many people who are designers and especially web developers (who are commissioned to create a face to their coding capabilities) know about typography, color, page balance or any of the things that only a few decades ago were the meat of the visual communications design industry.
    I am all for the wonderful talents that todays media architects and engineers have that are often intuitive as well as education based. I just wish that these people had the time and gift to learn some of the history of design too. Who today has even heard of ‘Josef Alber’s Color Theory’ system or a color aid kit. I had to study this both in architecture and environmental design school. It was not easy and it took me 30 years to get it!

  3. Hi Allison, thanks for mentioning my contest on your blog and for your honest opinions of my Facebook pages. My next endeavor are iPhone applications for which I am not too far from releasing as a service for Hot Web Ideas, Inc. That may be a whole new opportunity for you to critique the design of.

    As I continue to create the Facebook pages, you will probably be enlisted to critique them and I will probably be looking for your opinion.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Bruce,
      Our connection proves that we do not have to agree to have a very positive synergy between us. I look forward to our continued connection, to supporting each others work, working together and continuing to get the word out (whatever that word might be depending on who needs to say it and who needs to hear it!) Thanks, too for reading and responding to me blog. I just love doing this.

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