Art for all – good design for all

My design ethos is one of quality and appropriateness for the place. Good design should be all around us, big and small, the dot on the i, the cushion on the sofa, the roof on the building – no excuses. Why settle for second best, why copy others if you can be original? It is so sad to read of big companies risking reputations, not buying the best but producing poor quality copies – stealing designs. My students tolerate my monologues on the subject!

This blog entry celebrates some examples of quality design – because that’s what we should all aim for when making but also when buying. I have come across a great book called ‘Art for All’, telling the story of London Transport Posters. The book has black and white reproductions as well as colour, but the real charm is in the illustrations from original engravings of birds by Clare Leighton, printed in a salmon pink, as well as illustrations by Eric Ravilious (see below).


Image Image

(Art for All – London Transport Posters 1908 – 1949, Art and Technics Ltd. London, 1949)

The quality of design in these images is inspiring, with a great sense of detail without being fussy, and such skill in creating these images in only one colour while containing so much information of texture and pattern. I admire these artists but also the people who commissioned the pieces and enabled these images to be ‘Art for All’. As an aside, Both Leighton and Ravilious produced stunning designs for Wedgwood too.

It makes me think of my own practice and how I generate imagery using drawing and printmaking to create the visual language. Yes, the computer plays a large part in ‘tweaking’ for final output / reproduction these days but it’s the marks and textures, the print quality, a smudge of graphite, that cannot be created by computer. It might be quicker creating the whole image on the computer but it wont be as good as I want it to be. Having said that, it is also the creative process of working out, testing and feeling the work resolve on paper that I most enjoy. Was the design process meant to be easy? Its the struggle and questioning that keeps me doing what I do – I’m enjoying the journey. When so much time as part of having a design practice can be spent on the computer it is important to remember to turn it off and walk away to DO the creative things…and to get better at it…


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