Food for thought‘[...] do not think that good design can make a poor product good, whether the product be a machine, a building, a promotional brochure or a business man. But [...] good design can materially help make a good product reach its full potential. In short, [...] good design is good business.’
Thomas J. Watson Jr., IBM CEO

If there’s any magic, it certainly happens at sketch stage – Craig Frazier

February 23, 2014, 4:16 PM

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Lately I’ve been less and less interested in ‘design’ and more interested in ‘visually expressed ideas that can be understood by non-designers’. I won’t call it illustration, as I think it’s about much more than that. Sadly, with the rise of computers and internet that led to the commodification of most creative arts, ‘illustration’ has lost a lot of its value (just like ‘design’).

Editorial illustration (of the fine type) is arguably the best example on how wits and graphics can be delightful for almost anyone, not just us self-centred ‘creatives’. Christoph Niemann is the first that comes to mind, and not only because of my obsession for his work lately – but more on this in another post.

Craig Frazier is another of the finest illustrators that have worked for NY Times, Time, Bloomberg Businessweek and many more. Two quotes from him stayed with me especially, from a short film in which he talks about the importance of sketching (video and link below):

“If there’s anything magic … it certainly happens at sketch stage. If it’s not there, it’s not gonna show up later on”

and

“There’s a level of perfection that I’m looking for in the idea, but there’s a level of imperfection that I’m willing to accept, and actually embrace, in the rendering of the drawing itself.”

There’s almost never just one way of doing things, so I wouldn’t say that all creatives should have good drawing skills, but I do believe that working (thinking) away from the computer makes a big difference. Whether you do it by drawing (well or not), writing, or any other way that’s disconnected enough from the medium that you’ll eventually finalise your work in, your work will be much better. I love drawing and I’m constantly trying to improve my skills, but that’s just my choice.

Mr Frazier’s beautiful and witty illustrations always start on paper, shaped out as great sketches. He is kind enough to show many of these, together with the finished illustrations, in his book ‘The Illustrated Voice’. The introduction is written by Ivan Chermayeff, which should say more than enough.

The Illustrated Voice – Craig Frazier

The Illustrated Voice – Craig Frazier

The Illustrated Voice – Craig Frazier

The Illustrated Voice – Craig Frazier

Needless to say, a great book to learn from. More can be seen on Mr Frazier’s website, but watch the film first:

Worker Series #1 Craig Frazier – Illustrator and Storyteller from Jeff Hurn on Vimeo.

RELATED LINKS

98pages, a website showing 98 of Mr Frazier’s beautiful sketches;
— an interview with Craig Frazier (he mentions Christoph Niemann too);
— video via @Issue Journal, The All-Important Sketching Stage.

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“Do you draw for fun anymore?”

November 27, 2011, 11:56 AM

As I get used to the inevitability of being 30 next spring, I can no longer call myself a ‘beginner’, but I also don’t feel that my experience so far has made me significantly more confident or ‘great’ in my work. Even if Mr Saul Bass provides a bit of comfort — “… the good news, I say to students, is that what you are experiencing is exactly what everybody else experiences, even those people you most admire. The bad news is that it doesn’t get any better” — I’m still searching for at least a faint feeling of being on ‘the right path’.

I’ve been reading some great books lately, but also picking up bits and pieces that feel ‘right’, building something almost like a ‘widsom’ puzzle. One of the pieces was the “your taste is why your work disappoints you” quote from Mr Ira Glass that I wrote about a few weeks ago. This time it’s a talk from Mrs Lynda Barry, on the topic of “What is an image?”. It’s hugely entertaining, very insightful, makes you think, but, most importantly, makes you want to pick up a pencil and start drawing just for fun, just playing, and do it as often as possible.

But I’ll let you enjoy it:



Here are the links too, in case the embedding doesn’t work: part 1 & part 2.

Thanks go to Mr Austin Kleon — do follow him.
Saul Bass quote from the new book, read about it on the Creative Review.

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And Snow Covered The Land…

February 8, 2010, 11:18 AM

Such a wonderful thing to draw aimlessly on a torn paper, randomly picked among the piles of books and papers on your desk, never knowing what you’ll eventually get to — and not even suspecting that it’ll be related in any way to future events. If Mr. Glaser says ‘drawing is thinking‘, could it be that drawing is also a small peek into the future? I wonder…

(also on flickr)

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Fude Pen — no way back

August 30, 2008, 3:14 PM

This post has been updated, check the bottom.

Last year I had the pleasure of playing with a “brush pen”. The beauty of its lines blew me away. Writing and drawing with it was such a pleasure! Drawing type, logos, sketches, everything looked different from a normal pen, free, vibrant, ever-changing in thickness, ranging from hairline-thin to broad, thick brush strokes. And everything without the hassle of dipping it in ink every three or four strokes. Just cap it back and put it in your pocket. I had to have such a wonderful tool.

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Fude pen from Jlist

Several weeks of searching on the web only brought me frustration. Sure you could find it easily. But finding someone that would ship it to Romania was a different story. After a few months, a colleague told me she was going to Tokyo. You can easily guess my plea :) She brought me some brush pens—thank you Delia—and I was finally able to enjoy drawing with them every day (another friend brought back from Paris a big Corto Maltese poster, one could not ask for a better subject to copy and practice the brush pen). But the pleasure would’ve soon ended, since you can’t refill them (there are other refillable brush pens, a little more expensive, but the problem is the ink, you have to use special ink since other types would dry and make the brush tip useless).

Fortunately, last weekend I showed the brush pen to my sensei and he told me its real name: fude pen (“foo-day” pen). Searching again on the web, this time with the proper name, gave me the much expected results: someone that would ship fude pens to Romania. So here you are, JList ships almost everywhere in the world a lot of Japanese merchandise, fude pens included. Be sure to check out the wide variety of fude pens. I’d recommend the bold line one, the others I still have to test (the shipment’s on the way, can’t wait).

So, if you’re an illustrator, any kind of designer or artist, or just an asian-caligraphy enthusiast, the fude pen is a must have—no other drawing tool will ever compare (ok, fineliners excepted) :)

(foto taken from wikimedia commons)

———
Later update (Oct 2009):
I’ve found a much better and practical fude pen at MUJI (it’s called a calligraphy pen on their site, but with just one ‘l’), you can buy it online here. I bought myself half a dozen last time I went to London, they last at least two years without drying and they’re the best ones I’ve had so far (the tip is made of synthetic hair, not soft rubber).

Calligraphy pen from MUJI Online

———
Another later update (Jul 2012):

You can now find a wide range of ‘fude’ or brush pens shipped internationally by Cult Pens. Still, the Muji pen remains my favourite, as its brush acts more like a real hair brush, not a syntetic one. And they last for years (if you don’t use them daily, of course). My only gripe is they don’t come in other colours (red at least).

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