Some contradictions – Masters Degree, practice as research (…some thoughts)

In an earlier post I briefly stated that I had begun to come to the conclusion that perhaps some of my design solutions would need to look at the separation of medium, stylistic approach AND especially the “example content” from the visualisation methodology and evidenced efficacy of the work.

MA Sketchbook Notes – Medium NOT Message (the antithesis of usual priorities)

i.e. I am not interested in other peoples interest in George yet, just the efficacy of the method of delivery of the message.

Including its individual and disected elements (whatever form it/they took) and their lack of ambiguity and margin for interpretation by the client, or (perhaps more accurately) the target audience.

Looking at the Mazlow’s H.O.N., not in terms of content but in terms of concept of display.

What weighting or importance does the pyramid represent? Can the volume of each segment be read as information as well as just its height?

Saul Bass, in the same interview that I quoted in a previous post, can be heard putting forth his almost Holstee Manifesto-esque feelings about one aspect of his approach to his work:

“I want everything we [he and his design studio] do to be beautiful. I don’t give a damn whether the client understands that that’s worth anything, or that the client thinks it’s worth anything, or whether it is worth anything. It’s worth it to me. It’s the way I want to live my life. I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.”

A brave point of view.

Especially when seen through the lens of much contemporary design thinking (which for the most part sees that design as transient and disposable, with built in obsolescence, ready for the next rebranding exercise and associated invoices) such as that discussed in the advertising documentary Art & Copy by designer Lee Clow …those designers who (through whatever deficiency in self worth or fundamental missunderstanding of the real role of the designer in the “creative/client transaction) touch their forelock, think of the money and say “How big do you want your Logo sir?”

The above Saul Bass quote is without doubt the stance of a mature creative secure in his ability to create not only a work that appears beautiful on a purely aesthetic level, but one who is convinced of the efficacy of his design solutions (much of Saul Bass’ work has had a long lifespan, in particular his branding, most prior to the use of the term) and logo design, some of which has had an average longevity of around 35-39 years; and even when reworked, still adheres for the most part to the designers original vision.


As much as I might lean towards this viewpoint in my purely personal projects; when it comes to the development of the core visualisation and solutions related to my Masters studies I feel that in this case the target audience (art school students), has to be taken into account at every step.

Even if this means (and it is not a given that it should) that the final working image/design solution function takes president over its beauty or simple aesthetic conceit.

~ by hesir on December 11, 2011.

3 Responses to “Some contradictions – Masters Degree, practice as research (…some thoughts)”

  1. Hi Gareth, I have been reading with interest your thoughts on design education and visual learners. Just now researching into graphic design came across company called who participated in BBC 4’s beauty of diagrams featuring among others, Florence Nightingales
    famous ‘Rose Diagram’. Look under news Dec 2010.
    I don’t know if you read the HE Academy news bulletin, but some interesting articles in it about Art & Design education especially about change.
    ‘A new book jointly commissioned by the Council for Higher Education in Art & Design (CHEAD), United Kingdom Arts & Design Institutions Association (UKADIA), Arts Council England and the Art Design Media Subject Centre is now available.
    Inclusive Practices, Inclusive Pedagogies;
    Authored and edited by Dr Dipti Bhagat and Dr Peter O’Neil, the book draws on research into widening participation practices in higher education art & design and includes extracts from a range of work by practitioners and researchers.’
    The publication is now available to download from the ukadia website:
    Have copied and pasted this from (WE December 2nd issue). Glynis

    • Hi Glynis, thank you for that, really helpful. I’ll certainly be taking a look

      …and thanks for taking the time to read my rambling on here (laughs).

  2. […] concerns regarding the visualisation of some of these concepts (mentioned here and particularly here) has been the issue of making stylistic choices over just communicating an […]

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