Computers kill creativity – bring back the pencil!

Howard Milton’s incisive views on the lack of craft skills in graphic design (Private View, DW 31 August) will find particular resonance with many experienced designers.

Increasingly hijacked by a grim miasma of bureaucratic research and overanalysis of near-Orwellian proportions, it is no surprise that bland and castrated ‘solutions’ abound, where the designer’s role has been reduced merely to that of a production unit in the process of design.

This chasm in creativity also stems from the onslaught in the devaluation of drawing skills that amounts to an enormous limitation for any designer.

This situation has regrettably become deep-rooted in much of education, where students are invariably taught how to use computer programs but not how to actually design – to use their mind to think, draw and create with a pencil.

(I am reminded here of the late John Gorham’s wonderful 1994 poster ‘My only gizmo and its mouse’.)

Compounding this is a preoccupation with technique rather than real ideas and solutions, which has led to a shallow affectation towards design that is fuelled by technical intoxication. This results in endless vacuous dialogue about how an image was produced using a program and not about what the the image is, why it was produced or crucially its effectiveness in communicating an idea or not.

This depressing trend is not the study of design and is a worrying aspect for the future.

Great design that moves us, that sets the mind racing with its craftsmanship, pure creativity and power of communication, results from the client trusting the intuition, sheer inventiveness and judgement of the designer from the outset.

If that inner mystique and true wonder we experience with design is lost, the profession faces the possible danger of being marginalised to the point of trivialisation.

Patrick Argent, North Yorkshire YO11 2SH

Latest articles