I attended my first IDSA Kansas City event tonight which premiered the new documentary The Visual Language of Herbert Matter. I knew basically nothing about the designer so it was a real eye opener. The motion graphics and directing was done well. This helps carry you through the story which was created mainly from photos (very little film forage exist of Matter). I would recommend seeing it if you have the opportunity.
My friend Max Younger was key in coordinating the event. Him and his wife Liliana were kind enough to invite me out to dinner with the director Reto Caduf and a professor from KU after the show. We had a good discussion about graphic design of the time and it's evolution which is one of the themes of the film. Among many other accomplishments, he was one of the first designers to layer images/media which would of course evolve into a photoshop tool. This evolution reminds me of a scene during the film when an interviewee reads a hand written letter from Charles Eames to Matter. I thought, how has technology changed all of this? How will people document someones life when it is password protected? Or when text messages are erased? Do we just break into there facebook accounts to create biographies? Or will it be from blogs such as this?... But I digress.
Matter in some ways reminds me of grandfather who was a mechanical engineer and machinist. Everything both men did in their work, and basically their entire generation, was done by hand. The work Matter and my grandfather did often required tedious hand skill and lots of time to prefect. I have seen a resurgence of some of these labor intensive crafts. But I feel designers today spend just as much time working in "faster" digital format but with the same result. But is the result really the same? I've seen a couple of tutorials online of people digitally sketching then bringing their sketch into photoshop to add grain which makes it look like a hand sketch (not that I have anything against it, just giving an example). I guess the question I left dinner with was, as designers and even as a culture, what part of the design process are we losing and/or gaining by spending 90% of my time on the computer? Are we internalizing our craft, what we see around us and what we learn, the same as they did? Just something to think about.