uh, you draw it

A growing annoyance for me are subreddits for design and graphic software. They don’t live up to the potential that subreddits for other disciplines have, and most of the graphic design ones have turned into tutorial forums where people discuss various means of creating effects — never an aesthetic or methodology, pure mimicry of an exact effect in isolation.

The question is always along the lines of “how can I do this?” And the answer is, uh, you draw it. That’s it. You draw it. What are you not getting?

I see this as indicative of two things. That the mixed and undefined use of the term graphic design has steered people into misguided understandings of what graphic designers do, and that digital media have compartmentalized how these people are thinking about the visual arts into tool-based domains, rather than ones for their conceptual or qualitative domains.


The most recent example I’ve seen was regarding the above poster — they wanted to know how to warp text this way. This is a really simple type treatment, which makes the answer — drawing — a really unsatisfying one.

Presumably, this person sees that the warping is working and looks cool on this poster, which they want to replicate. However, they don’t understand that this “effect” only works because of the repetition of similar forms in the poster.

It is far better to pose questions on the methodology for relating text with the rest of the artwork. The zigzag warping, on its own, is honestly uninteresting and commonplace, but it works here because of its well-considered use.

Mimicry of such a surface-level detail like this will never work as effectively as duplicating the methodology of using a visual quality from the image to inform how the type is distorted.