Communicating With The Brain

Nice piece over on the AIGA website called “Why Designers Can Think” (Link). I too have noticed that designers are uncommonly able to solve problems (that realization came as a blow to my engineering ego when a fellow non-engineering degree’d student at art school brilliantly solved a problem).

While I don’t agree that going digital necessarily means disconnecting from the brain, as suggested in the article, I did really like the last part of the piece regarding sketching. An excerpt:

When I was talking recently with Milton Glaser about his drawings, he remarked, “Drawing is not about representation but about thinking. Trying to understand what you’re looking at … The brain sends a signal to the hand and the hand sends one back and there is an endless conversation between them.”

The industrial designer Bruce Burdick said something similar in describing the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci as “a private conversation between him and his hands.” In his book The Hand, neurologist Frank Wilson argues that the qualities needed for thinking are inseparable from the qualities needed for seeing, showing and making. If so, the relationship between hand and mind could illuminate both what makes designers so smart and what makes designers so anxious.

I have to admit ignorance of these previous arguments, but I’m happy to say I’ve been saying the exact same things on the Core77 forum when young designers ask if sketching is necessary (a common question, since many can’t sketch and would rather use the computer). There’s a term I learned in school that makes a kind of implicit sense: “search lines”. These are the faint lines on the paper that capture the brain’s thinking… searching… for a solution. It’s that idea that I try to get across to them. Unfortunately they usually don’t understand. But many accomplished designers love them. Perhaps because rather than just looking at an image, they realize they’re looking at much, much more.

via TP Wire Service