Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Design has been central to my career. Earlier on I entered into formal design training at College in Kingston Ontario. I am fortunate to have good relations with a life long friend who at the time was driven to pursue fine art foundation courses. He has gone on to be a Director in England of many popular TV series including internationally acclaimed U.K. comedy show Little Britain. I attribute his influence to a large extent as a platform for setting me on a course into the graphic design profession. My experience traveling extensively in England with him, having foreign influence this combined with my Canadian family grounding in fabulous natural rural settings such as the Muskoka region and the 1000 Islands provided me a good perspective to take on the challenges of the competitive and hard driving design path.

Three years in a design school gave me the papers I needed to enter the workforce and assert my role as a design professional.

Design College really touched the surface. Today looking at the applicants we see I feel fortunate that opportunities lined up they way they did. Many positive scenarios resulted from design College and from a practical standpoint it provided a focus on a subject area that at the time I felt would eventually lead me into forming an enterprise.

I need to validate everything my style is not about uncertainty. I do enjoy spontaneous events and suprise but when it comes to my career aspirations during the design college years I was on a dual quest. One focus was the practical side of design basics and how this could translate into "making a living". The other side of the quest was validating what design is. The cadre of design enthusiasts I was among I believe had different views on what the design field would or could offer.
Some notions included "glamor, cool, prestige clients, easy course, name in lights, work in lights. These aspirations and objectives perhaps are not bad or wrong but for me I wasn't convinced on the practical side that these notions could form the basis for a career.

With the modest amount of money I had I bought visual design reference books, I read extensively. I felt some form of transference would happen by looking at as much visual stuff as a I could assimilate. Reference has always been the designers secret this is apparent in studios when you see walls of hardcover books stacked to the ceiling. I think its fair as a designer you can't get enough reference.

Of course books don't float onto your lap you have to search them out. Like so many things in life searching for books can lead to incidental events that can result in well "validation". The book Information Anxiety fell off the book shelf during one of my reference hunts. This was after I had been employed as a designer/ sales representative for some time. The author a guru of making information easy to understand Richard Saul Wurman describes in his book the designers role. His logic and principles validated in many ways the basis for what leadership in design is all about.

The core of his work is about making information easy to understand. He describes pathways to meaning, making information accessible, structuring information according to organized and logical categories, he suggest finite ways to categorize information. This study in the information age pre internet was in my view powerful reference that pulled together all the disparate elements of the design discipline including typography,visuals, illustration, lay-out and how all this is ordered up. RSW's focus on words and how writing is a key element in the structure and order of things. This very concise reference used vernacular that was not taught in design college and at the time wasn't very pervasive in the professional circles I was immersed in. We have used the principle of access for the last twenty years. The idea is simple yet often overlooked and replaced with more esoteric philosophies that simply hinder good design and weaken communications.

Richard Saul Wurman coined the term information architect this aptly describes the role of the designer who wants to make information easy to understand. A very good grounding and certainly the basis for attracting great demand from clients who need this capability.

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