Thursday, February 12, 2009

T4: Designer. Scott Hansen.

During the past couple of weeks I looked at a lot of design that makes use of texture, shape and color.
One of the most inspiring designers for me was Scott Hansen. Scott Hansen is a designer and musician from San Francisco, who has years of experience in freelance design. He is currently an independent designer, who created his own shop, clothing line and blog, that are encompassed on his website ISO50. There you can see his portfolio and read find out more about his influences.
Scott Hansen never got a degree in design, he never got professional training and everything he does was self-taught through practice and desire to do what he likes. Even though Scott has over ten year of experience in graphic design, he claims not to have high admiration of his work. I both agree and disagree, because it often seems to be a pose, when designers say things like "certainly [I am] not an intellectual when it comes to design".
Scott divides his works in two categories: design and illustration. His experience of working for Adobe can be seen in some of his works. Many of Scott's are stylized and refined digital designs. I am usually wary of designers who produce most of their work digitally, especially when the work they produce is highly dependent on texture. In Scott's case it doesn't bother me. His works are tasteful and refined. I believe that this has a lot to do with Scott's habit to collect things that inspire him and more importantly his developed preference for specific kinds of design. Here's what he says about his influences: "Obviously I do a good deal of looking back when it comes to inspiration. I feel the design that blossomed from the Bauhaus movement and came of age in the 1960’s was the Zenith of an art form whose importance would fade away as Television, and later the Internet, took over the reigns of visual communication thus effectively transforming the medium." This is one of the things I admire about Hansen's design and illustration. His appreciation of the past is obvious in his works. The faded textures combined with retro bright colors make his works nostalgic of the past and relevant in the present. This is a rare combination. I often see the works that try to mimic the faded appeal of the 60's design, but usually it's just a bad parody that doesn't arouse any questions. Looking at Scott's design and especially typography, I ask myself what makes them both retro and contemporary?
While I admire Hansen's work, I see certain things that I cannot relate to. The beauty of Scott's work is in combining successful imagery with well-developed typography, not in illustrations that look like and ad for Adobe Photoshop. Unfortunately, I see a risk of Scott's work becoming more dependent on technology with the advancement of design programs. This is one of the reasons why I started to look more in geometric type that is based on it's shape and legibility (or lack thereof) and not color or texture. It also made me think about such things as the hierarchy of type and image and whether or not they can harmoniously coexist in the mixed world of design.

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