Monday, December 8, 2008

The Future of Graphic Design

Given the impact of the economy and politics on graphic design in the past, I believe the design world will look for a new direction to define this era of uncertainty and great promise. Every day we are told of another economic failure, more jobs lost, more people losing their homes, more people going hungry. At the same time, a new political regime is taking power promising great change. Will designers look to the war posters of the 40s trying to bring back that nostalgia of sacrificing for the greater cause? To the counter-culture era of the 60s and 70s to help all those aging baby boomers remember to fight against the establishment? Or, to the new mid-lifers who grew up thinking that everyone will have their own personal experience. It will probably be all of the above and more. There are hundreds of years of experience to draw from and people are globally connected like never before. Last week in the Wall Street Journal there was an article predicting that interior design will move away from the stark, modern look that has been so stylish back to the overstuffed, floral, traditional styles of the past. In troubled times, the writer argued, people like to feel cosy and warm.
Not only will the elements of design change direction, but in this digital era, the needs of design are changing every day. The marketing tools available to young designers are completely different than in the past and still changing. Today, I watched ads flash across a screen while I pumped gas in my car, while I waited at the check-out stand buying groceries, while searching for Christmas presents on the internet and of course, on the television. Advertising is everywhere and the more we open our lives to the outside world in the name of convenience, we open our lives to the influence of others. You can already access the internet and send pictures from a cell phone. It's hard to imagine what would come next. How can it get more convenient? Maybe it will just get less expensive. Like the calculator, in a few years all of this digital technology will be so inexpensive anyone can afford the newest and best.
If I were a young designer I'd take as many computer classes as possible, study the Masters and develop my
fine art skills and then, like in any profession, remember my audience.

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