Show DN: Better Tools ≠ Better Designer(deardesignstudent.com)

over 5 years ago from Chantal Jandard, Product Designer

  • Mike Wilson, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    1 Get set up with the tools of the trade. 2 Get competent. 3 Learn higher level concepts.

    I'm not sure how easy it would be to do 3 without 1 and 2

    You can't learn design concepts without knowing Photoshop first? I think Herb Lubalin, Paul Rand, Dieter Rams (insert design hero here) would disagree with you.

    I think her intent was to explain she did it backwards. Learning GIMP, Photoshop, and Paintshop Pro didn't make her designs better. Learning design itself before learning the tools would have been far more efficient. That way you can spend your time learning Photoshop with purpose, and can ultimately judge if it's the right tool for the job (ie. not wasting time learning how to use unnecessary filters like ceramic tiling effect).

    Learning tools before design theory is like trying to figure out which hammer to buy without knowing what size nail you'll be hitting most with it.

    DN as a whole tends to over-fetishize tools and process, so I think that's why a lot of comments on this article have been negative. But in many instances, spending hours and hours learning all the latest tech is counter-productive.

    For example, I know a design student who bragged to me about how many weeks he spent learning Grunt/Gulp, all the various CSS preprocessors, and optimizing his front-end workflow. However, when I asked him how many times he actually does site builds....he told me once a year at most. So he spent 80+ hours trying to save 2 hours per year by having the most efficient Gulp/SASS setup. And at the rate of web technology advancement, this knowledge will be irrelevant in 1-3 years.

    Meanwhile, his design skills are nowhere near as cutting edge as his knowledge of tools. Since he wants to be a designer, wouldn't that time be better spent learning the fundamentals?

    1 point
    • Marc EdwardsMarc Edwards, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

      You can't learn design concepts without knowing Photoshop first? I think Herb Lubalin, Paul Rand, Dieter Rams (insert design hero here) would disagree with you.

      They all used tools to design, just not necessarily Photoshop. When I studied, we were only allowed to spend one day a week using computers. The rest of the time we used paper and markers. But, paper and markers are still tools and they still need to be learned.

      Learning tools before design theory is like trying to figure out which hammer to buy without knowing what size nail you'll be hitting most with it.

      I never said before. My objection is to thinking that tools are unimportant — if you aim to be a professional, you need to master the tools you use, and a big part of mastery is time and experimentation.

      And, as stated previously, learning tools and practising your craft go hand in hand.

      DN as a whole tends to over-fetishize tools and process, so I think that's why a lot of comments on this article have been negative.

      A lot of comments have been negative, because a lot of people disagree.

      But in many instances, spending hours and hours learning all the latest tech is counter-productive.

      Balance is always needed, but I wouldn’t advise a student to spend less time learning their tools.

      I know a design student who bragged to me about how many weeks he spent learning Grunt/Gulp, all the various CSS preprocessors, and optimizing his front-end workflow. However, when I asked him how many times he actually does site builds....he told me once a year at most.

      There’s a vast spectrum of designers and skills needed. If the design student really enjoys exploring what can be done with Grunt, Gulp and CSS preprocessors, that’s brilliant. My advice to them would be to get really, really good at it. If it’s interesting to them, go all in. Be the most amazing front end web developer you can be, because that is valuable.

      Not everyone needs to spend their time thinking about grids and font pairs. Not everyone needs to have a favourite Mondrian painting.

      0 points