In order to research how different practitioners tackle their work I believed it would be best to look at two different design artists and their approach to what they do.
Shepard Fairey is perhaps best known for his iconic campaign poster design, Hope (2008). The red white and blue poster captured American patriotism and presented a bold symbol in what is simply a stencil art piece. But the success and recognisability of the poster led to iterations from other artists and for Fairey himself to follow up the artwork in 2017 with three diverse women in the same style of red white and blue. Fairey is an American graphic artist and social activist. The blend of these two attributes leads to generally political art pieces and statement art.
“Art is not always meant to be decorative or soothing in fact it can create uncomfortable conversations and stimulate uncomfortable emotions” -Shepard Fairey
His art is inspired by the political climate and stories surrounding the time. Fairey, much like most graphic artists blends commercial art and traditional art. He has worked in many different mediums, from canvas work to street art and even dabbling in sculpture. Most of his art is created from generating stencils digitally and then applying them to a canvas. He also uses newspaper clippings, cutting and pasting, painting, and drawing to make collaborative works. Describing how to be a successful artist he says the “most important thing is to be honest with yourself and be happy if you’ve accomplished your vision – no matter what the rest of the world has to say”.
My second artist is one I have discussed in a previous post, Paula Scher. In describing how she creates her logo’s and iconic designs, she refers to a ‘visual language’. The idea that a good design should be instantly recognised so that no matter how it’s formed or how it’s changed, it is still obvious in its relation. Once you learn this design or understand it, you become aware of the visual language involved. Another key component to her designs are that they should be ‘clean’. Even a messy design can have a clean feel, as though everything is where it should be. Scher also likes the ability design creates to be able to work in multiple fields and for different purposes. Whether it be different clients with very different businesses at her workplace, Pentagram, or working artistically or even for free.
“I think all design matters and all design deserves to be intelligent” -Paula Scher
Scher also finds that she is at her most creative when she is bored, on the way to the airport or waiting in lines. It is at these times of boredom that nothing is blocking or distracting your imagination. When designing, she enjoys taking risks as it tends to make the final product something truly original and memorable. Also taking in the power of text and how it has a spirit and emotion of its own that you can manipulate in its design. Scher knows the importance in understanding what the client wants or what the purpose is, as this should direct the piece, but that it is also important as a designer to “develop the ability to explain, defend and promote your work”.
Looking at these two artists and their approach to design its clear to see that the intent behind the design is always the most important. Why it should appear in this way, who is going to see it, will it make the impact it should? Also in being unafraid to take risks with the work and create your own style. Even with their commercialised work, this approach is what creates their success in their field, as they do not treat it as a corporate piece but as something that should create a symbol and a message.