The Importance Of Finding Inspiration In Old School Designers
Many moons ago (not really that long but like 5 years ago) I was obsessed with playing the electric guitar and would listen to albums of my favourite guitarists religiously. When I say listen, I mean try and learn note for note, by ear all of their intricacies and nuances. This would ultimately give me my own voice as a guitarist but at some point, that wasn’t enough. I wanted to know what my heroes listened to. Oh so and so listened to Jimmy Page? Cool I’ll start listening more to Led Zeppelin. Then came, well who did Jimmy Page listen to - and so forth. This led me to understanding how my heroes emulated their heroes and in turn, made them who they were. The possibilities are also endless as you come to find other artists of the same era and your ‘vocabulary’ becomes that bit more unique.
Naturally, I applied this to my graphic design skill set and wanted to know who the big dogs were before and way before my time. I started to find names I hadn’t heard of in a long time and also ones I had never heard of. It’s funny when you see something from the 50’s or even 60’s you get that sudden ‘aha’ moment of ‘now I know where that use of type comes from.’ You begin to notice similarities in old work that has been modernised in such a refreshing way that ferments the belief that ‘nobody in this world is fully original.’ We all get ideas from other people but there's just something so cool about finding Inso from stuff that just isn’t from our time! A great example of this is a designer I really look up to called Aaron James Draplin.
For those of you who haven’t heard of him, he has brought back the usage of fat lines, multiple lines and that 60’s groove feel that was once the jam is now once again a hit amongst design nerds. Of course, this style isn’t excepted by all and some designers and clients just can hang with that amount of funk. I say WHO CARES! Just the sheer ballsyness that it takes to modernise such a dated style of design and make it so likeable in modern society is just ludicrous and I absolutely love it. Thank you Mr. Draplin.
Some of the names that I found over the years are probably ones most design nerds would know although maybe not all.
Paul Rand - I found Rand’s work from doing precisely what I mentioned at the start of this blog, tracking back in time in the search for my idols idols. Paul Rand’s body of work is immense and hugely respected by most of the design community around the world. To me, Paul Rand is like the Walt Disney of graphic design - starting a revolutionary style that has been used for decades and decades after his time. He designed the ABC logo, multiple IBM logo refreshes and his infamous million dollar logo for Steve Jobs post apple venture NeXT Computers to name a oh so very few. Please check out Paul Rand.
Paula Scher - As someone who has lived in NYC for many years in the past, I was shocked to find that so many things I had seen on the street were designed by Paula Scher. Her body of work is so ‘Slavador Dali meets symmetry and meaning.’ Paula Scher designed a 1.5 million dollar logo for Citi Bank in just 5 minutes over a meeting discussing their re-brand. Where did she sketch this pricey logo you ask? On a fucking napkin. Yep…Paula Scher ladies and gentlemen. Such a badass.
Dieter Rams - This is a name I first heard at university while studying design. Rams is a German industrial designer who developed the now famous SK4 or what some have come to know as Snow Whites Coffin. Competitors had given the item that name as other companies just couldn’t compete with its flawless design. A gorgeous record player which revolutionised functional design as not just functional but beautiful. Rams designed this for Braun one of Germanys greatest radio manufacturers and which inspired all of Apple’s current products - the resemblance is comforting to know that something so vintage has inspired someone to create the worlds largest technology based products that is the iMac, iPhone etc. Rams had list of 10 principles which apply to this day. Good Design.
Good design is:
2. Makes a product useful
3. Is aesthetic
4. Makes a product understandable.
7. Long lasting
8. Thorough to the last detail
9. Environmentally friendly
10. As little design as possible
I encourage all designers to take a trip down memory lane and learn from pour predecessors. Learn that what we now know as ’The Law’ is the law for a reason. Learn why it's the law and also, learn why every so often we break the law to create something great. Do yourself a favour and open your mind to old, current and future possibilities in design because when the moment comes and you’ve hit a wall creatively, this is where your Inso will come from.
Words - John Bresciani
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