Introduction to Design (2nd Edition)

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9780132085113: Introduction to Design (2nd Edition)

This book covers two dimensional design (basic design fundamentals) and is geared toward first-year undergraduates in fine art and design.  A comprehensive, well illustrated introduction to the basic principles underlying all of the two-dimensional arts, this book covers the elements and principles of two-dimensional design. 

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About the Author:

Alan Pipes is a freelance writer, illustrator, webmaster, and part-time publisher, specializing in applications of computer technology to graphic design, fine art, illustration, and product design. He is the former editor of CadCam International, and author of Drawing for 3-Dimensional Design and Production for Graphic Designers 3e.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

"Reason informed by emotion... expressed in beauty... elevated by earnestness... lightened by humor... that is the ideal that should guide all artists."
– CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH

What is art? Art is what artists do, Dadaist Marcel Duchamp might have said. Art is what you can get away with, you may be tempted to think when looking at contemporary artworks. The word art derives from Sanskrit and means "making" or "creating something". We can only guess why our earliest ancestors started to make art, drawing and carving on cave walls. Egyptian wall paintings and African art have a ritual dimension, but still manage to delight our eyes. The ancient Greeks and Romans surrounded their lives with culture: poetry, theater, sculptures-and paintings, few of which survive. They were probably the first artists who painted purely for pleasure and for the joy their art gave others. Whatever the reasons for creating, art enriches our lives, stimulates our senses, or simply makes us think. Artists have come to be revered for their gift of profound insight into the human condition.

In Byzantine and Renaissance times, being an artist was just a job: painters had workshops full of assistants, and artisans making paint and preparing panels and canvases. They generally produced religious artworks for wealthy patrons. It was only in the late nineteenth century that "art for art's sake" began to emerge, art being seen as an expression of the artist's emotions. Since then Hollywood has depicted such artists as Vincent van Gogh and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec as glamorous yet tortured visionaries who suffered for their art, locked away in solitary garrets. Abstract art followed, and today almost anything goes.

What is design? Its roots are found in the Italian word disegnare, to create. In these days of designer jeans and kitchens, it is easy to think of design equating to stylish consumer goods or gadgets, made desirable by clever and knowing graphics (which draw ultimately on art for inspiration). We can forget that everything artificial—good or bad—has been designed by someone.

In its broadest sense, design is preparing for action: planning and organizing. We might have "designs" on someone, and plan how we can engineer a successful outcome. Architects design buildings, industrial designers design products, and artists design paintings and sculptures. This book looks at design in the easel-based arts, with references to the allied arts of photography and sculpture. By easel arts we mean drawing, painting, and printmaking, in the sense of making marks on paper or canvas, or the screen-based arts: video, computer, and installation-based works. The computer has blurred the boundaries between the traditional creative disciplines, but they all share a need for planning and visual organization.

Design can also be considered as a form of problem-solving. But unlike math, in art there is never a single correct solution. This is why artists and designers are often called "creatives." Painters and sculptors often set their own tasks; designers and illustrators are given a brief with strictly defined parameters, and attempt a design based on those constraints. Even in abstract expressionism, where you might imagine that all the artist does is throw a pot of paint at the canvas and hope for the best, there are underlying processes at work. The artist's eye and hand in tandem are guided by a need to produce an outcome, and he or she is informed by the whole history of art up until that point. Chance and randomness do have a place, but serendipity is a better term: you need skill and experience to turn a happy accident to your advantage.

It is beyond the scope of this book to provide a comprehensive overview of art history, but there are plenty of other books and web resources—some of which are listed toward the end of this book, should you be inspired to explore further. Nor can this book be an art appreciation guide, although understanding how and why artworks were created, what the artists were trying to achieve, and who their influences were will pay dividends when planning your own works. Looking should be the main education of every artist.

Design in the context of this book means, simply, composition. How do we place and arrange the various elements of design discussed in Part 1—of little use on their own-to create a unified and thoughtful piece of work that will interest the viewer? The way in which to go about this, using rules or principles, is outlined in Part 2. The many illustrations serve as examples, and as inspiration. Although the chapters are set out in a logical sequence, it is almost impossible to isolate a particular element—discussing line, for example-without mentioning its textural component. There will be some repetition and overlap, but perhaps the reader will recognize that all the elements and principles of design are equally important, and, once joined together in the right combination, they will result in a successful artwork. We describe them; how they are used is up to you.

Many people have contributed to the creation of this book. I should like to thank in particular Lee Greenfield for commissioning me to write it, my editor Richard Mason for his patience and eye for detail, my picture researcher Sue Bolsom for her tireless work and lateral thinking, and the designer Ian Hunt for assembling words and images into a harmonious composition. I should also like to thank friends and colleagues of the Brighton Illustrators Group, many of whom have contributed images, and the staff of Brighton University Library at St. Peter's House and of Brighton Public Library for their help in research.

Alan Pipes, July 2003

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