Slowing down is a big part of the holiday season. It’s an opportunity to take stock of what matters and reflect on the year that passed while looking forward to the new one ahead. But in this increasingly digital world, it can be hard to pause and turn off our screens for an extended period.
These days, I spend most of my time working on digital devices instead of designing for the physical world. In recent years I’ve seen this transformation from 50/50 digital vs. analog, to almost exclusively using screens in designs that are received primarily through these channels.
I am ambivalent towards such changes, which has me feeling torn between gratefulness at how much easier it makes life as a designer and sorrow because what was sacrificed when giving up analog tools is decades’ worth of experience dealing directly with designing products. I miss what was sacrificed in the digital bargain of an easier life.
Hands are the tools of the mind
I feel a more intimate connection with the products I design when I get to build them with my hands. For example, when making color systems, I find it far more rewarding to physically mix and evaluate pigmented colors for greeting cards vs. developing system colors for screen applications. Part of this reason boils down to the time spent physically mixing inks and bases to the color choice and evaluating the result. There are recipes and scientific processes, of course, but I feel more connected to the colors when I have connected my hands more to my brain. In turn, I am connected to the product by being physically invested in it.
The physicality of printing a job is something that I welcome, some time to test a design and see how my computer work translates to a process. It allows me to test and evaluate without a screen or technology. In the coming year, I will give myself more time to balance and find the middle ground between these two sides of my design process. I hope to share more of that with you, so stay tuned.
Happy Holidays and happy 2023!