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High Profile Magazine

Retaining Individual Authorship as a Designer

Authorship (the state or fact of being the writer of a book, article, or document, or the creator of a work of art). So, what does it mean to call for a graphic designer to be an author?

While doing research the following came up:

“The involvement of the designer in the mediation of the message to an audience. It can be argued that through the creation of visual messages, the designer has an equal role to play in the ways in which a piece of visual communication is read as the originator of the message itself. The designer as a form giver or channel through which the message is passed, can play a key role in actually shaping the content of the message.

Some design theorists have borrowed the notion of the auteur from film theory in an attempt to build on this notion, while others have been provoked into a heated response which foregrounds the neutral role of the graphic designer within a commercial area.”

‘Visual Research’ – Ian Nobel and Russell Bestley.

Authorship is a messy subject. Trying to create a clear and concise definition for it can be difficult because the matter is personal. For some, authorship comes naturally (like writing an essay/blog), while for others it is a real effort. Even more complicated when you consider the fact that interpretations of authorship differ from individual to individual. To me, authorship, is a culmination of past experiences, influences, and inspirations, and how they are expressed in my own creative output.

Graphic designers and typographers can and do create their own histories through their content, designs and publishing. Documenting the new trends, evolution of design, typography and technology, and the way of designing and illustrating in this century. This is advancing this industry and ideas through their self-authorship. How? Through design authorship, designers are redefining the design process, creating new avenues for collaboration, creating stronger relationships between the visual and literal world, allowing space for self-expression, and creating space for political and social engagement (Black Lives Matter movement).

Contemporary copyright law is making it increasingly difficult for creatives to have any ownership of their ideas. However, in a culture of testing, collaboration, and exchange, is the concept redundant? Is it even possible to own a creative style?

Discovering your own voice can be a challenging and an uncomfortable process. It requires a commitment to trial and error, research, and reflection; made increasingly overwhelming by the enormous volumes of content we are exposed too every day. As we evolve it is our continued responsibility to stand back and reflect on what we consume.

“I’m a believer that people should be inspired by each other, stretch that muscle, go there, test ideas out, see which parts fit you. Wear all the beauty you see and find your own creativity inside that exploration.” - Refinery 29’s creative director Lydia Pang.

The Internet (websites, social media, news) has created a wealth of opportunity, inspiration, and vulnerability. It is clear artists and officials have vastly different views on authorship and its relevance, but we can all agree that while artists are reflections of their experiences, influences and the people around them, refining your individual point of view is still crucial and, it is possible to retain individual authorship while being part of a wider cultural movement.