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Please Make This Look Nice: The Graphic Design Process as an Act of Drawing

An exhibition at NYC's The Drawing Center focusing on methodologies, not finished products

by David Graver
on 09 February 2016

In its own way, "Please Make This Look Nice: The Graphic Design Process as an Act of Drawing" is just as much a piece of educational performance art as it is an exhibition. A group of acclaimed designers will take turns producing works at a pop-up design studio, within the Lab gallery at NYC's SoHo-based The Drawing Center. Equal attention will be placed upon the process and finished projects, and everything from typography to logos and motion works will be addressed. It's almost impossible to track how many times an hour our eyes cross a work of graphic design, but rarely do most (outside of the industry) have an opportunity to see the visuals come to life. Here, engagement and information factor heavily into the overall program.

I think that the general public assumes that graphic design—the visual 'stuff' that surrounds us—just sort of appears

Curator Peter Ahlberg (principal at AHL&CO and a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts, New York) shares with CH, “I think that the general public assumes that graphic design—the visual 'stuff' that surrounds us—just sort of appears. For a slightly more informed group, designers are people who pick fonts, 'do' Photoshop and make websites. It is by looking at and talking about a graphic designer’s process that we are able to see a genuine creative enterprise." It's an interesting proposal with many layers of value at play. Ahlberg continues, "We gain insight into the complex, and often non-linear relationship between thinking and making—exactly what graphic designers do day-in and day-out—which is at the forefront of important conversations happening today in art, design, technology, and the culture at large."

The selected talent has been drawn from New York's graphic design community, and all creators will be working on original assignments. Lectures will take place in addition to micro-exhibitions and the actual design process observation. As Ahlberg makes clear, "I am not suggesting that designers are 'artists' or that the process trumps the finished product, but by focusing on techniques, methods, and tools—and personal idiosyncrasies for that matter—we get a look into how and why designers make what they make, not to mention a glimpse of work that would otherwise not be seen." Again, it's that full experiential package that is most alluring—especially since the topic at hand is one that continues to infiltrate and intrigue the creative industry.

"Please Make This Look Nice: The Graphic Design Process as an Act of Drawing" will run from 19 February through 20 March 2016 at The Drawing Center's Lab gallery, 35 Wooster Street, New York City.

All images from "Please Make This Look Nice: The Graphic Design Process" by Peter Ahlberg (Rizzoli, March 2016)

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