Ways of Seeing

In Adrian Shaughnessy’s book, How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul, the page usually reserved in books for a dedication to one’s mother or parents or closest friends is blank save for one short quote.

Seeing comes before words.
John Berger
Ways of Seeing

Ultimately, those four words are the battle cry of graphic designers everywhere. They are the slogan of the entire profession, the motivation for the entire concept of visual design. For some reason I don’t think of them as a scientific perspective or a sort of observation; they are, to me, an argument. They serve as evidence. Evidence that what a graphic designer does is meaningful – invaluable, even – and they seem to justify just how much money I’m planning to spend on graduate school.

I’m not sure why I always feel the need to defend my choice to pursue graphic design, but I do, and John Berger makes a damn good argument for me. Seeing comes before words. Therefore it’s necessary to shape what is seen so that the words mean anything at all. Not vice versa. By the time someone has seen something, words can only do so much to change their mind.

First there come seeing.

Then comes the explanation, the back up information, the concept, the mission statement, the copy, the content– everything else that an artist or company or brand or individual uses to support the initial visual offering. But no matter what you put into words, seeing comes first.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: