Don’t be original, just be good

As another way of making the arguments I made in Good beats innovative nearly every time, here’s graphic design legend Paul Rand (who designed famous logos for IBM, UPS, Enron,Westinghouse, ABC, and NeXT).

At about the 3:00 mark he says ‘don’t try to be original, just try to be good’

Paired with the video, this short lecture by Rand is a good introduction to visual design thinking: better than many textbooks I’ve seen.

“When you say ‘design,’ everybody has their definition which doesn’t correspond to yours. There are many good definitions. One is the synthesis of form and content. In other words, without content there’s no form. And without form, there’s no content. A work of art is realized when form and content are indistinguishable. When form predominates, meaning is blunted. But when content predominates, interest lags. But the genius comes in when both of these things fuse.

Without the aesthetic means, that it’s not done for love, but it’s done for some alterior motive, because it sells, because it’s popular, because it’s crazy…

Graphic design is one of those phrases that doesn’t mean anything, because anything that’s graphic is graphic. Painting or dancing, if you see it, or writing, if you see it, it’s graphic. The genre of art, of graphic design, of painting, is art. That’s the genre. It’s all art.

The vocabulary, or the language, of art, or of aesthetics: order, variety, contrast, symmetry, tension, balance, scale, texture, space, shape, light, shade and color. This is the language of form.

Don’t try to be original, just try to be good. That sounds naive, but it’s true.

Without aesthetics you can’t find the truth. To do things with quality.

Art is an idea that has found its perfect form. There are too many possibilities, no matter how perfectly you do something, in can still be improved.”

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