the big question.

Beautifully rendered however rather intimidating sketches of some cars from: 


At first glance this is a very difficult question to answer as there is not necessarily a definite correct answer.  However personally I would argue that the answer is no. I believe drawing and sketching is a tool we use for communication of ideas and learning (something I talked about in a previous blog post “doodling, a misunderstood art”). So how can we be judged on something that we use only to aid in the development of our own thinking?


Ways of Seeing by John Berger is a collection of seven numbered essays – some are actual essays others are photographs – which raise many different questions to show the reader different ways in which they could perceive visual designs.  In relation to the question the book talks about how we see things in different ways based on what we already know and what we are actually like as human beings. This means that when someone looks at an image they may get a completely different experience from it than the person next to them or even the person next to them. For example if I were to show an orphan child a drawing of a house they would react emotionally to the picture in a completely different way to perhaps a child with a large stable family would react. We all see things based on how we see the world ourselves.

 Simple sketches that may be interpreted in different ways. Sourced from:

I believe that designers shouldn’t always go out of their way to draw and sketch the most beautiful image they’ve ever thought of, leave that to the artists its what they are there for. A simple drawing or a sketch of a clear representation of an idea can possibly be the only piece of ‘artwork’ in any kind of designers process. After all its all they really need to do nowadays as most of the planning stages in the design process are done using some form of CAD (Computer Aided Design) software package as they give the designer the freedom to create a much more accurate and realistic representation of their idea. Drawings and sketches are most likely to be found in the initial periods of the planning stages, they are also likely to be a simple doodle rather than a piece of art.

Personally when I am in the process of designing something, whether that be a product or some form of graphic presentation I find that the first thing I always start doing is jotting down random ideas on a big piece of paper in the form of quick 30 second sketches or ‘doodles’ if you would prefer. I strongly believe this to be an affecting and extremely necessary part of the design process and I go out of my way to make sure I do it in the planning of any design process. It gives me the ability and the opportunity to refer back to something further on in the design process if I ever lack inspiration or get serious “designers block” which I find myself experiencing more often than not if the truth be told. These noto so beautiful doodles also are a very useful tool for if I ever come up with a random idea out of nowhere and need a quick and easy way of remembering it so that I can go back to it later. Doodling could and has the potential to be the most important and useful tool any designer, or any normal individual for that matter should have at their disposal.

Although I see drawing and sketching as an incredibly useful skill and is something I believe should be in every young and professional designers tool belt, I can understand how others may think it should only be used to create beautiful sketches to have on display. If done correctly, people can create strikingly stunning images worthy of an art degree. However these images (such as the ones at the very top of this post) can be incredibly intimidating for young designers only just beginning to test their sketching skills. It makes them in a way jealous and they are convinced that this kind of level of drawing is a benchmark they should set themselves. Drawing for them then becomes something used only for presentational reasons to show off their skills, not a useful tool for communicating their ideas. This means that these young designers then see rough doodles to be useless, worthless and meaningless, causing them to jump straight into trying to draw something gorgeous which is near impossible to do when you have only just imagined an initial concept or idea simply in your head. This is something I and many other designers fear to become a more common trend.


Image of a doodle from:

It is in this case then that I come to my response to the original question. Are designers defined by their drawing and sketching skills? No. As I have spoken about in this post as well as  my previous post, drawing is not something that should only be used for designers to show off their beautiful and impressive work. It is an art form that can be used at its best to communicate the designer’s ideas clearly to a client or even themselves. If a designer can simply sketch out a tiny little thumbnail drawing to help them remember their possibly world changing idea rather than spending hours creating a beautiful representation of it, then why must they refrain from doing so? You don’t have to be a great drawer to be a great designer.


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