Is graphic design anti lucrative

Dilettante Dilettante. About respectable amateurs in graphic design. Philine Delekta


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2 Dilettante Dilettante About respectable dilettantes in graphic design Philine Delekta Is the title suggesting that they want to give dilettantes a right to exist in graphic design? The circumstances speak for themselves: While some time ago an apprenticeship or a degree was a prerequisite for working as a graphic designer and the corresponding work equipment was not yet a matter of course, today anyone who is reasonably motivated can acquire a certain basic know-how and a corporate Tinker design for Aunt Gabi's barber shop. Everything is at hand: the Macbook, the HD smart phone camera, which also offers some nice photo filters, affordable stock images and an insane pool of fonts that can be downloaded free of charge. Formally, everything seems possible, even if the craftsmanship does not always meet the creative urge. The way to the idea is not far either, as you have more than enough second-hand impressions to hand that you can fish for yourself between two sips of coffee from a pool of design blogs. Nothing goes away as long as it can be recycled again by some dilettante. Because the dilettante in detours has more of the way usually they take the next best solution and benefit from the work steps that a competent graphic designer has already taken to arrive at a graphic solution. If necessary, the recycled design is then put back online and recycled again until ultimately even the amateur can no longer see the same thing over and over again. The dilettante's instinct for imitation results in monotony, trivialization, the suppression of cultural peculiarities and dulling, but nothing profitable. It goes without saying that there is a certain oversupply in graphic design due to a large number of hobby graphic designers and thus a drop in prices

3 clearly distinguish between good and bad. It's nice that the child now has a name. In 2010 Robert Klanten introduced the naming of E and U designers, just as one can distinguish between serious E music and U music for entertainment purposes. 1 In doing so, he distinguishes laypeople, whose creative instinct is purely entertaining, from elitist designers - the classic, the traditional, the real graphic designers. Indeed, we owe the scenario described at the beginning to the thoughtless action of some dilettantes. But can all amateurs basically be seen as agreeable converters of ideas who act purely out of convenience and in no way reflect on their behavior? Should one differentiate between differently minded amateurs, just as one differentiates between differently minded designers? If we are already with E and U groups, couldn't one also be employed for amateurs? Do all so-called U-designers really see those who do not belong to the classic, established designers as motivated solely by entertainment purposes? If one takes Alfred Lichtwark's considerations into account, one cannot necessarily infer from one dilettante about the other. At the end of the 19th century, the former director of the Hamburger Kunsthalle made a distinction between two types of amateurs: on the one hand, the serious amateurs who strive for a deep understanding of a subject, and on the other, superficial amateurs who do not make an effort to look in-depth urge, are quickly satisfied and only occupy themselves with one subject for their own pleasure. 2 In the following I will describe the former as e-amateurs and the 1 Gerdes, Claudia: Designmoden Interview with Robert Klanten, in: PAGE,, Nr, S Lichtwark, Alfred: Self-education, in: Schaar, Eckhard (ed.): Education des Auges, Frankfurt am Main 1991, pp. 83ff. 66

4 Call Philine Delekta the second named as U-Dilettanten and describe the two groups as I got to know them in my environment. Accordingly, a largely personal assessment follows. The aim is to make it clear that a differentiated view of amateurs is necessary in order to assess whether or not they are an asset for the respective subject. I draw the following observations from the area of ​​graphic design, but they can certainly also be made in other areas. It is possible that some of us have already been out and about as underground amateurs without noticing and reflecting on it. The U-Dilettante feels less amateur than an E-Dilettante does. He delimits the term dilettante as an external perception, but will not want to call himself such. He feels inwardly secure in the unfamiliar subject because he has no idea of ​​its depth and makes no effort to grasp it. He is happy with his work because he does not recognize the massive difference in quality between his work and that of a skilled graphic designer as such. The U-Dilettante adapts what he sees without reflecting on it. He will always get stuck in the attempt to imitate and be satisfied with it. It will not be of benefit to the department because it does not create anything new, but only recycles, as already described. The e-dilettante does not enjoy the lightheartedness of the underground dilettante, who has nothing to lose and unknowingly fails. He is aware of his position as a dilettante and does not gloss over it. He even defines himself as a dilettante, if not with pride. He has a healthy self-assessment and knows about his shortcomings, as he has a vague idea of ​​the qualities that good graphic design brings with it. Accordingly, he has an approximate idea of ​​the complexity of the subject, which the underground dilettante lacks completely. He is aware that he is going roundabout and astray, while the underground dilettante takes his ways for granted. 67

5 The e-dilettante gains an idea of ​​the whole and feels small compared to it. He does not resign himself to playing in a different league as a professional designer, but actively seeks criticism. In order to compare the perception of himself and that of others, he exposes himself to the comparison with professional work and looks for people who can correct and complete his own self-image. He recognizes his own misjudgments and learns to be self-critical. Once the e-dilettante has reached this point, there are again two options. First: the e-amateur becomes desperate over time because of his inadequacy and his negative experiences. He feels incapable of acting, accepts his situation and maintains respect for discipline. In contrast to the U-Dilettante, who is simply saturated after scratching the surface, the E-Dilettante says goodbye to the discipline with melancholy and self-doubt. A regrettable, but often heard, ending to the story. The second possibility, which occurs very rarely: The dilettante retains stamina because the thirst for knowledge and creativity is stronger. Recognizing new deficits is something positive for him, as they show him where there is a need for action. Every weakness he recognizes is a chance and opportunity to advance. For the e-amateur to develop, however, it is imperative that he has creative potential, which is essential in graphic design. In contrast to technology and theoretical basics, this cannot be learned. Various creativity methods are helpful, but no substitute for a certain sensitivity of the eye and an intuitive awareness of what makes a good idea. Kirsten Dietz and Jochen Rädeker, owners of the Strichpunkt design agency, say: Don't trust anyone who tells you that you can learn creativity. It is in you. If you have a perfect command of InDesign, you are far from being a designer. Good design is more than good craftsmanship, it is a good thought that 68

6 Philine Delekta needs time to grow. The best design school is time for yourself. 3 Accordingly, a degree is not a requirement and no guarantee of being able to develop creative potential. If the e-amateur invests time and energy, he will develop his creativity on his own. He is convinced that there is no standing still for him. Sooner or later he will cross the line from dilettante to expert. This is where things can get exciting. Unlike a designer who has never worked in other areas, the e-dilettante can from now on contribute new things and question existing standards thanks to his impartiality and curiosity. In the back and forth, he may discover the completely unexpected or previously overlooked. 4 He sees what may be invisible to interdisciplinary designers. The e-amateur then recognizes the detours as an opportunity to arrive at a thoroughly personal result. By following the established paths, he would not have discovered the new. Seen in this way, the procedure and the result of the e-dilettante elude the internal disciplinary logic and undermine established standards. 5 What then arises can appear strange because it falls out of the norm and is therefore initially rejected. All too often, amateurish is the name given to the new. One will mean it disparagingly, the other as a welcome innovation. 6 Either the term sticks to the new or the new establishes itself and in turn becomes the standard. 7 The term amateurish dissolves from design and producer alike if the idea, strategy and implementation are convincing. 3 Dietz, Kirsten / Rädeker, Jochen: Good Design is a tough Job, Mainz 2011, S Heidemann, Christine: Dilettantism as a method. Gießen 2005, S ibid. S ibid. S Schüttpelz, Erhard: Die Akademie der Dilettanten, in: Dillemuth, Stephan (ed.): Akademie, Munich 1995, p

7 As a prominent example of a successful crossing of boundaries from a dilettante to an expert, the development of David Carson is described at this point. The former professional surfer and sociology teacher from Southern California pursued his creative urge on his own. According to his own admission, he considers himself lucky that he never had systematic graphic training from the old school: I didn't have to learn everything that one is supposedly not allowed to do. 8 In addition to his work as a teacher, he designed his first magazine, a magazine for skateboarders called Transworld Skateboarding. He countered the conventional graphic design of the 1980s with a completely unique design style that was shaped by beach and pop culture. Carson sees his surfing experience as a suitable basis for his creative activity, as he sees parallels between surfing and design: [...] [Both] have to do with freedom, with personal expression, with the joy of experimentation. Surfing is not a team sport. There is an individual who tries something that he enjoys, individually. 9 Carson took the ease and courage to take risks with him from surfing to graphic design. This was expressed in the fact that he practiced an almost brazen handling of typography and set up his own rules: intuitive mixtures of handwriting and computer fonts, thick letters next to italics, big letters next to small letters, these in turn copied into one another, mirrored, cut. With his radical break with reading habits, he was all too often met with rejection. Most of them, especially die-hard graphic designers, found his approach counterproductive. Carson's work defied logic. Few, mostly young people, welcomed the innovation and the courage to cross borders. When the music magazine Musician hired Carson as a graphic artist because there was an individual 8 Sager, Peter: graphic designer David Carson a portrait, carson xml (). 9 ibid. 70

8 Philine Delekta believed that he recognized rhythm and a liberating lightness, the editor-in-chief soon dismissed him because his style was too experimental for him. It was Beach Culture magazine and later Ray Gun that gave Carson the freedom he needed. Carson won 150 design awards within two years. His style, which was particularly evident in Ray Gun, was ironically characterized by the fact that no stringent style was recognizable: every issue was completely redesigned from the layout to the fonts and the logo. The concept was unpredictability. Other magazines, in turn, adapted this pattern of permanent transformation. By establishing his design ideas, the term amateurish finally broke away from Carson. Some of his customers still include Nike, Coca-Cola and American Express, among others. Carson's career is an example of how two areas that initially seem to have nothing in common can be enriching for each other. The e-amateur not only benefits from his unconventional approach, but also from a valuable overview. If he comes from another area, he gets a top view that a specialist with blinkers can lose. Being seriously interested in as many non-disciplinary areas as possible protects against ignorance and creates a fresh and broad view of one's own discipline. It is therefore useful to be a dilettante in as many different areas as possible and to cultivate other interests. The cultural historian Jacob Burckhardt once formulated this idea as follows: If one should not lose one's ability to provide a general overview, indeed its appreciation, then one should be a dilettante in as many places as possible, at least on one's own account, in order to increase one's own knowledge and enrichment Points of view; otherwise one remains an ignoramus in everything that goes beyond the specialty and under certain circumstances one remains 71

9 on the whole a rough fellow. But for the dilettante, because he loves things, it will perhaps become possible in the course of his life to really deepen himself in various places. 10 Especially in times of increasing specialization, e-amateurism, as a method of better overview, can create knowledge that would otherwise be denied to us. 11 Even a specialist would do well to venture into areas outside the field in order to renew and broaden the perspective of his own area. The further away a new subject is from the actual specialty, the more surprising and significant the gain in knowledge can be. Since such experiences give perspective and drive to one's own work, the better specialist is the one who is also a dilettante at the same time. 10 Burckhardt, Jacob: World historical considerations. About historical studies. Historical fragments. Leipzig Heidemann, Christine: Dilettantism as a method. Giessen 2005, p

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