Tuesday, March 11, 2003

It could be me being dense but I do not find graphics software easy to use. Yesterday I ranted on about tatty clip art and thought I might design a few simple amusing images to enliven emails sent to friends. I failed dismally to produce anything satisfactory. Far easier to pick up a pen and draw – the process is immediate.. Moving hands have been making marks on surfaces with a variety of implements for a thousand years or more. A process by which there was communication between what the brain perceived and the marks made by the hand. Sophisticated technology intervening between mind and hand is a recipe for disaster in most artistic circumstances.

I feel sorry for calligraphers and signwriters these days because letter forms and layouts are far easier to create with a computer than drawing by hand. That is one the one branch of computer graphics I enjoy, the ability to change layouts and font sizes makes designing much easier. So easy in fact that we can become insensitive to the beauty in traditional letter forms. There is a lot of ghastly illegible lettering used in commercial printing nowadays created by gross distortions of basic letter forms designed with the pen or brush. Adapting these forms to a different process – cutting in stone or wood produced changes but the esential character and legibility was preserved. The design freedom provided by digital imaging has been a mixed blessing. We have a local group of calligraphers and it is always a pleasure to see exhitions of their work to be reminded that our letter forms originated from written marks made by hand. Ugliness arises when we lose sight of our cultural roots.

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