Brittany Campbell
art director + designer


Marion Deuchars on Design Matters

I usually don't write about things I hear on podcasts. I usually tweet the link or share it on Facebook if I think it is something I find necessary for everyone to hear. But today, it was different. I actually stopped what I was working on to take a few notes. I even replayed the show when it had finished. So what makes this particular episode so newsworthy? Because it made me understand art and my relationship with it. It made me understand why I wanted to go to an art school. It made me realize why I am striving to be a designer.

I recommend listening to the episode before reading any further. As hard as I might try, I could never fully do it justice. Maybe you can connect with something else that has been said. I would love for this post to become a discussion.

You can find the episode here: Design Matters: Marion Deuchars

What I really want to talk about is the conversation between Debbie Millman and Marion Deuchars when Debbie asked Marion why she thinks around the age of 11, children stop drawing. I may be paraphrasing but this is what I got out of the conversation. This is what I found interesting.

When we are young we draw with expression. When we start to get to the age of 11, and into adulthood, we try to draw with a sense of realism. If we can't get the proportions right or make our drawings look like they are real, then we get frustrated and stop. Some people even develop a fear of drawing and never try it again. 

Ever since I could remember I wanted to be an illustrator of children's books. But when I was in the second grade a boy named Alex, who was a particularly good drawer, pointed at my comic strip that I was making and said it looked ugly. He said I couldn't draw. It was really hard on me because a few of the other kids around me agreed with him. I told Alex that I was going to be a book illustrator when I grew up. Alex said you have to be a good drawer to do that.

Ever since then I was self conscious about my drawing skills. It followed me all through middle school where I would get in arguments with my drawing teacher Mr. Taggart. I told him that I could never draw a cube and that he could never teach me. I like to think that I tried hard to be a good drawer in his class but I really don't think I was. I think my lack of self confidence was to blame.

This dilema followed me into my college courses where I barely passed 3 drawing classes. My teachers knew I couldn't draw and would routinely laugh out loud at my drawings.

Marion and Debbie continued on to say But if we continue to draw in this expressive way and those around us encourage and celebrate our exploration, then we will keep drawing. Drawing is about looking. When we draw something we see it more intensely. When we look at someone else's drawing we see it in a different way.

I couldn't agree more. Not only will we continue to learn more about drawing, and become better at it, but we may stumble across our own style. Art is suppose to be an expression. The art I appreciate isn't art that is an exact representation of an object. I like it to be a little abstract. I like it when colors are different. The drawer can inject sentiment into a piece of work that a photograph may not represent as well.

Near the end of the episode, Debbie Millman interviews Marion Deuchars' two boys. When asked about designing, one of the boys replied, "If it's rubbish, you don't have to cross it out. You can turn it into something." The charming young boy, complete with british accent, continues to tell Debbie that his favorite part of the book his mom created was a picture of a man standing on a balloon. Debbie tells him that that is a fantastic part. The boy interrupts her and says, "It's not really true actually. It's just my imagination. And you have to use what ever your imagination... It doesn't have to be true. It can just be in your imagination or in your head where there is imagination."

Yes. Art let's you use your imagination. It doesn't matter if Alex from second grade didn't like my drawings. I can continue to work towards becoming a better artist, drawer, and designer. I can find my own style that maybe someone else will appreciate.

Thinking more about this episode, I would say I got two main ideas from it. 1- Never stop developing your skills.  2- Embrace your short comings and the world they can create.

Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated that I can't make something that looks as good as something a more established designer made. While I can look at their work and try to emulate their style, it's also important that I explore my own skills and style. As much as I like Jessica Hische, it's probably best that there aren't 100 little Jessica Hische wanna-bes running around.

I've been trying to make a conscious effort to make stuff that isn't already being made by others. I want to explore beyond the current trends. It's important to know what is going on in the industry now in order to be part of the industry's future. Maybe embracing and exploring my shortcomings in my design skills will help me find my niche and help me create a style that let's me draw my world the way I see it.