Work Culture

The Software Doesn't Make the Designer

When I mentioned I liked making music, the ironic response was somewhere in the lines of, “Not using GarageBand though, right? haha.” It was GarageBand. So, as I got home, I, a beginner and a hobbyist, started researching more advanced software to continue making music shamelessly. Only after a while did I realize that there was no point in purchasing an expensive and hard-to-learn app to have fun for when I get a little bit of free time. GarageBand is an excellent free app for amateurs (and not only). It’s fast and intuitive and has lots of sound samples. What else could I ask for, a musician who does the work for me? 

A couple of years back, when I had no experience with Adobe programs, I decided to make a short family video using an industry-standard software - Adobe Premiere Pro. After hours of frustration and confusion, I had nothing, and as I was running out of time, I opened up iMovie and finished the video in less than 15 minutes. Why did I think my video wouldn’t be good enough when I knew that iMovie had all the functionality needed to complete the project? The mistake I was making as a confused teenager was that I was thinking in terms of software vs. software instead of artist vs. project/problem. Yes, it matters what weapons a fighter uses. However, if they don't know how to use those weapons, what the combat rules are, or how to improvise with a different set of weaponry in unfamiliar environments, well, then they are a weak fighter indeed. Select the weapon according to the problem... I mean the enemy you are trying to defeat, learn how to use it, and kill that bastard. Note: violence should never be the answer; the above is just a metaphor.

After realizing that the software used doesn't determine the outcome of my project but I do, I started using various apps in harmony. For instance, I still use iMovie for videos since it's much faster than Adobe programs, and then I move on to Adobe After Effects to use the more advanced features. Photoshop and Illustrator are excellent for most projects I tackle, but sometimes using Canva in a browser is sufficient.

It's also noteworthy that even within these apps, we have to be careful not to accidentally replace ourselves with the software. There tend to be many drop-down menus with countless features, effects, templates, and so on that seem to be making the designs more and more advanced-looking but are sometimes removing the originality from the piece and adding needless complexity to the outcomes. To use music as an example again, the other day, as I was working on a song in Garageband, I kept on layering different sounds and instruments while wondering how it was getting better but also worse. Then I listened to my favorite songs and realized that they were quite simple and minimalistic. The songs were so good that the artists didn't need to add extra fluff to create the illusion that the songs were good. Hence, if the fluff is needed, probably the idea/solution needs revisiting and updating. 

When people find out I'm working towards Graphic design, they assume all we do is learn how to use certain software. However, the reality is that learning how to use apps is only a miniature part of it. Nowadays, as mentioned earlier, there are many easy-to-use apps that anyone can utilize to produce designs. So why do we need designers and artists? Designers are there to provide creative and functional solutions, and whether they use a pencil, a fancy computer, or a machete to get the results is irrelevant. That is not to say that medium is less important than the concept, however, that is a conversation for another day.

Tamta M.

July 23, 2021

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