When Your Life’s Work Doesn’t Really Exist

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Crit guest writer, Maggie Macnab, has once again wowed us with another terrific bit of design-based quandaries, with “Cookie Cutter Creativity.” It’s a fantastic article about something this writer has often grappled with: the longevity of computer-based/distributed work. It can be a very hard issue to think about, particularly if you live by these shiny, humming boxes of microchips. And with these new keyboard-based, creative existences comes less education about the fundamentals, pre-computer, and more focus on where to put the cursor, when to push the button, and who to call when it all crashes. It can be bleak at times, but Macnab’s writing will help you though. Here’s a bit:

I remember when art was actually a required part of public school curriculum. Not that it was great in all cases, but it was there. Now teaching technique supersedes teaching critical thinking in American education. I teach symbolism as visual literacy for designers, which you might think would be of interest to many aspiring designers, but my classes are small compared to the newest software bells-and-buzzer offerings enough of the time to know the priorities have shifted. Even with consistently high student evaluations for what they learned in my class over many consecutive years, enrollment is not what it should be and schools promote computer training well over design philosophy instruction. And my own training? Finding available classes or workshops in esoteric studies such as semiotics or sacred geometry are virtually non-existent in this country. Do a search on Google, you’ll see what I mean. So I read and conjecture a lot. And I use, God forbid, intuition and my own experience as teaching tools. I spoke at design schools in Scotland a few years ago. There is a difference in European students’ design sophistication compared to the States, though we like to think we excel in all areas. Funny enough, they also have access to esoteric teachings such as alchemy. Believe me, if you want to be a meaningful designer, you really ought to know some basic alchemy.