Friday, March 12, 2010

Kurt Wirth: drawing, a creative process

Cover design (photograph by David Versluis) and below it is the dust jacket (1974) taken from Designer’s Books.

An overlooked book in Dordt’s library and one that needs to get out more often is titled, drawing, a creative process (1976) by Kurt Wirth. This book is an antidote for designers who seem to lose vocational interest in design once they get out of school and have been practicing for a while.

Wirth’s book seems especially prophetic in view of today’s proliferation of digital photography with its “cool” special effects, which often produces ubiquitous effects without very much insight.

Here’s a passage from the book that seems profound and fitting:
Many designers chose their profession because they could draw. So they proved their aptitude and were trained. Their work, so they imagined, should be self-determined and unmistakable. Sometimes even during their training, but generally later, they must sacrifice their personal inclinations and conceptions, their special abilities to the general trend. Their original motivation to the profession is gradually lost in ready-made programs and formulae before they have found their own way in designing. A later generation may perhaps see our profession differently and bring new impulses to it. Perhaps this book will encourage some members of the profession to remember their original motivation and to use drawing again in their designing.
Wirth’s book design is particularly compelling by juxtaposing a “classic” typographic structure in combination with expressionistic illustrations and pictorial layout. It’s impressive that he can generate such remarkable impact by combining Helvetica 55 with personal images. This book is certainly well worth your time to take a look at it.

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