Friday, December 11, 2009

Thought and Meaning

A couple of nights ago I attended a Graphic Design portfolio review at Cal State University, Fullerton. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the work. There were a few gems amongst them and I am very happy that a local college is producing some worthy design graduates.

A recurring conversation I had that night involved the story and meaning behind what the students had designed. While reviewing a set of logos, I asked one student, "What do those circles mean?" She was silent for 10 long seconds. She didn't know. Or at least didn't know enough to be able to communicate it to me. To end the awkward silence, I suggested what I thought it meant, yet what I think it means and what the designer intended it to mean are two totally different things so that wasn't much help.

We ended up having a long discussion about what the company stood for, its values and reason for existence and how those very important facts tie into the makings of a logo. That holds true for any piece you set out to design. Another student had a random heart beat line going across the spine of a book jacket. Again, I asked "What does that mean?" Silence.

A huge part of finding out about a candidate is learning how they think. I can see your work. I really can't see how you think or got to what you ultimately put on paper. This discovery is fascinating and it is what sets you apart from every other designer. Know why you designed something. Know why you put a circle or a color or a texture into your work. Meaning cannot be extracted from design.


Matt said...

What about in the actual portfolio? Does a rationale of the concept help, or an explanation of one's role in the campaign, or just let the work speak for itself?

Cecilia Gorman said...

I have heard opposing opinions regarding your question. I prefer a brief explanation. Rationale of the concept might be too much, because I still want the chance to "get it."