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The Value of a Sketch

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Design +1 Age Levels High School (16 to 18 years old), Post-Secondary, Adults

A design project’s aesthetics and cultural impact are usually the primary consideration as to the effectiveness and quality of a designer's approach to problem-solving. What is often overlooked in these perspectives are the various preliminary approaches that designers employ—how do we visualize and ultimately share our ideas with others?

Within design education, projects are usually conceived to help expose students to the “design process,” an often-complex journey of experiments and discoveries. This process helps guide students in the creation of future successful design solutions. With the progress of the digital experience (PowerPoint presentations, iPhone apps, and Virtual Reality), the art of the sketch seems to be a casualty of the current state of the design process.

What can we learn from a sketch? Is the sketch a dead art form, forever packed away in folders or archives never to be seen again? Or, can we reevaluate its historical contributions in the design process and creation of artful typographic syntax and hierarchy, image creation, and narrative development?

 Most often, these small, thumbnail sketches speak only to a limited audience (Art Directors, other designers, or only the designer themselves) and therefore usually have a limited impact. But, in the hands of a skilled and creative designer, these sketches can mean the difference between success or failure, the green light or the idea being squashed.

As a supplement to several educational design projects, this collection attempts to expose students to the value of the simple pencil sketch. How can we use the sketching process to encourage young designers to visualize away from the computer and avoid the digital “sameness” pervasive in our visual world?

This collection attempts to chronicle the process of various designers and their projects (both large and small, complex, and simple) and presents their approach to preliminary ideation through the sketching process. The collection includes thumbnails, photographs, color studies, line reductions as well as the completed project in hopes of revealing The Value of a Simple Sketch.

Designers/Artist included:

Willi Kunz, Swiss-born Kunz played a major role in introduction of the new typography developed from Basel to the United States where he currently lives and works.

Dan Friedman, (1945–1995) noted American graphic and furniture designer and educator. One of the significant contributors to the New Wave typography movement.

Painter Piet Mondrian, (1872–1944) was the leader of the Dutch De Stijl movement where he implemented an extreme visual vocabulary consisting of planes of primary colors, simplified right angles, and linear accents.

Tom Engeman, stamper designer and Illustrator

 

 

 

 

 

 

Globe Sketch

Ned Drew

Statesboro Arena

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Sputnik

Air & Space Magazine

Drawing

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Drawing

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Drawing

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Piet Mondrian

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Verso: Study for a Composition [sketch] / (photographed by Walter Rosenblum)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Study for a Composition [sketch] / (photographed by Walter Rosenblum)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Sketchbook 1925. Sheet G: Rectangle Composition [sketch] / (photographed by Walter Rosenblum)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Study for a Composition [sketch] / (photographed by Walter Rosenblum)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Sketch of Four Lozenge Compositions [sketch] / (photographed by Walter Rosenblum)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Sketchbook 1925. Sheet A: Three Square Compositions [sketch] / (photographed by Walter Rosenblum)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Two Studies for a Composition (detail) [sketch] / (photographed by Walter Rosenblum)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Study for a Composition [sketch] / (photographed by Walter Rosenblum)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Composition with Blue and Yellow (Composition Bleu-Jaune)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue [painting] / (photographed by Walter Rosenblum)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue [painting] / (photographed by Walter Rosenblum)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Bob Dylan in the Solarium at the Castle

National Museum of American History

Bob Dylan

National Portrait Gallery

Columbia School of Architecture Lecture Series

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Hands, from the Early Series

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Let the Buyer Be Sure!, from the Eary Series

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Fair Today--Every Day!, from the Early Series

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift Packages for Hitler!, from the Early Series

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Repaying Nature's Riches, from the Early Series

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Weakness into Strength, from the Early Series

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Aim High! from the Early Series

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Weakness into Strength, from the Early Series

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Non-Profit Org. (5c) Mountain

National Postal Museum

Smithsonian 150th Anniversary Stamp

Smithsonian Archives - History Div