Fascinated by Layout
A working knowledge of the fundamentals of design is as important now as it ever has been.
Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by layout. I didn’t know to call it that before I studied design; I just knew that I could look at a page and find beauty and wonder in it even without reading the words it contained — if it even contained them at all. Some of my favorite “children’s books” are those that only contain images.
(I put “children’s books” in quotes because I have always thought of them as being ageless. Just because a book is created for a child does not mean an adult cannot learn from it for a lifetime.)
It may be that my time looking at picture books as a child is what created my love of visual language. I find endless wonder in the deceptively simple interactions of lines, shapes, and colors. Playing with visual language — discovering new ways to use it and striving for perfection in the old ways — is what keeps me going as a designer. I’ll take geometry over technology any day.
That’s why, lately, I’ve been digging in to the basics. I’m trying to find new ways to explain the importance and impact of simple design concepts. As the technology we use gets more and more complex, the distance I’m observing between a designer’s daily practice and a working knowledge of the fundamentals of design is growing. I feel a need to do something about that.
Visual Literacy Texts
One thing I can do is continue to encourage you to find and read good visual literacy texts.
The longer I work as a designer, the more that basic, visual literacy texts stand out for their openness, evergreen value, and optimism, while high design theory recedes in its opacity, irrelevance, and elitism.— Christopher Butler 🦠 (@chrbutler) August 11, 2019
List of Recommended Visual Literacy Texts
- A Primer of Visual Literacy, by Donis A. Dondis
- Principles of Two-Dimensional Design, by Wucius Wong
- Square Circle Triangle, by Bruno Munari
- Visual Grammar, by Christian Leborg
- Visual Literacy, by Judith and Richard Wilde
- Structuring Design, by Ulysses Voelker
- A New Program for Graphic Design, by David Reinsert