The other day, I was talking to some friends and colleagues and overheard someone in the background talking about Photoshop. They claimed that they were an incredible graphic designer, because they are incredible with Photoshop. After overhearing this, I asked for a link to their portfolio site, and was shocked to find out that they didn’t have a site showcasing at least some of their work. With this being said, I still gave them the benefit of the doubt and thought that maybe they were really good in Photoshop, which is great, but I disagree with the statement that you are an excellent designer, because you are good in Photoshop.
Graphic design takes so much more than simply creating a pretty image in Photoshop. You have to have text that flows well with your image, so that your message is properly communicated. You have to have a good structural hierarchy so that people that are scanning for information can easily find it. You have to have a good eye for color and be able to decide of a solid palette of colors that work well together. People have to be able to read your message and be able to understand it completely.
Another thing that bothered me is that I have noticed a trend in immaculate 3D typography lately, which is fantastic. The tutorials teach you how to create fantastic imagery and melt images and textures into the 3D letterforms. The problem is, that half of them are illegible when it is all said and done. I don’t care how beautiful you make a bunch of letters look, but if you can’t read what it even says, then why in the world would you even make it in the first place? I have seen where they have made glossy, candy style 3D type, and it looks great. It looks like candy and is full of color and is easily read, without any sort of strain to figure out what the message is. I have seen some that I still don’t know what it says, and more importantly, I don’t care. The important part to understand is that neither does the viewer. You lost them- it’s over. The message was lost in texture and form and became so abstract that no one knows what it even is anymore.
The point that I am trying to make with this is that it is great if you are trying to learn the different ways to create effects and styles inside of Photoshop, Illustrator, or any other 3D program. The thing that needs to be understood is that there are underlying principles that govern a great design. It is like knowing how to paint an old car and make it look beautiful, but not knowing how to get it running properly. You will never get anywhere with it.
It is great to make things look beautiful-that is our job, but not all of it. The rest of our job is to communicate a message and to effectively solve a problem for our clients.