Guest Blog: Design + Technology = Results
28 May 2014
As designers, innovation in technology has had a massive influence in our work. Whenever there’s a technological development, our industry has to adapt and embrace new possibilities. In meeting then surpassing these challenges, design changes the world. The Gutenberg printing press lead to mass produced and distributed writings. Intaglio (metal plate) printing, allowed for finer, more detailed print to be mass produced. Phototype setting lead to quicker and more accurate printing.
The evolution from mechanical to digital technologies has certainly changed the way we can handle a project. Gary Sutherland, our Managing Director, has been involved in the graphic design industry since 1980 and has experienced this evolution for himself. Although we jest that it’s a junior’s job to make coffee, his first task was to pick up a metal block for an ad to be supplied to the Dundee Courier. Manual labour!? Design students today would think he was making it up.
In those days you had the designers and visualisers who would use Magic Markers to create their visuals for jobs, like ads and brochures. The ability to draw at a high level was a critical skill. The visuals would then be passed to finishing artists who would prepare the artwork using various tools. Gary recalls that for the first four years of his career, he processed bromides using horrible chemicals in a darkroom for the senior artists. His nickname was Mushroom, for obvious reasons.
When Gary started out, hard copy type would have to be marked-up and physically sent to a typesetter like Waverley Press. If you made a mistake in your mark-up, you’d have to improvise with the primitive tools available. Fast-forward to 1988 when he bought his first Macintosh computer. It was the ultimate game changer which allowed him to play with type and layout in real time, until the design was perfected. Everything could be done in this magical little box. Gary believes that without the Mac, he would probably not have had a successful career as a designer. Thank you, Steve Jobs.
‘Transferring type from Letraset sheets was time consuming.’
The technologies present in our field today have vastly influenced the landscape of graphic design. The platforms used to communicate and market a brand change almost daily. The instant nature of communication, our ability to blend a campaign across online and offline media and measuring their success or otherwise as it happens is a powerful tool.
‘The Apple Macintosh was a huge technical innovation when it was launched in 1984.’
The youngest designers in our industry have grown up with digital technology and more often than not, they haven’t experienced the mechanical processes of only 20 years ago. Photographs are no longer developed in dark rooms; designs can be altered quickly and easily and we can create high-quality prints using digital printing presses. Gone are the days of chemicals and clunky machinery. However with technological innovation comes new challenges.
Compared to print, designing for the internet requires a new set of skills. The internet revolves around data and to harness that, we need developers who can translate code into a meaningful design. Stuart Whitehead is both our youngest developer and our first employee who’s studied Computer Science, a fairly technical course. It’s his generation who have been immersed in the internet — Stuart began creating websites when he was 10 years old. Its the skills provided by courses like Stuart’s which will enable us to design for the internet, now and in the future.
Of course, this technology has also increased the amount of noise in our lives. Products, services and people need to work smarter to be heard but the tools are there for us. To some in the industry, we are in an era of ‘creative deficit’ where the technology has developed faster than creativity. Creativity is catching up. It always does. Great leaps in design happen on the back of technological discovery which innovation in turn feeds off. And so the cycle continues.
How we communicate is in a continual state of change — we don’t know where we are going to be in a year, 5 years or 10 years time. One thing we do know however, is that it’s great to be part of it. It’s rewarding to feed off technology’s capabilities and build brands through design. We’ll continue to enjoy technology and the advances made for the benefit of our clients and in turn, their clients. It’s what we do.
Design + Technology = Results.
Now that’s something we can get behind.
EQ Design are a design agency with wide ranging expertise in brand building, web development, graphic design, and advertising.