» The Future of Design in Art

The Future of Design in Art



Artistic composition has been been an after thought for most. “Line it up on a third and that’s good enough…we can fix the rest in post.” If we don’t change now we are going to leave a huge body of art for the future to look back on and wonder what went wrong. All self expression and no structure. All Yin and no Yang. Or maybe I’m just bias to learning from the masters and how wonderfully crafted their compositions are and how they new exactly where to place every element in their image. They communicated their message with precision and to this day people line up to see their work. It’s not just a fluke, they created something that is artistically powerful.

If you haven’t heard of Harold Speed, I would recommend reading his books on art. They are full of wisdom and insight. After reading a bit of his book, “Oil Painting Techniques”, I was inspired to write this…

~ It’s great and admirable to study the technical aspects of your art, but do not suppress the imagination by drowning in technicalities. Use them both to your advantage. Learning techniques shouldn’t replace the artistic impulse that develops from within, it should only help guide you to a higher level of artistic sophistication. ~


What I mean by that is learn the technical aspects of composition found in the canon of design, and add them to your arsenal. The “artistic impulse” is the passion and drive inside of you to create something that is remarkable. It’s what makes you sacrifice many things in order to accomplish your art filled dreams. The point is to practice design techniques so much that they become second nature. When the technical tasks can be performed subconsciously, the art can flourish without boundaries.


For all of the photographers (or other artists) out there who want to stand out from the crowd…to trump the competition with superior images. How will you do it? Everyone is a photographer these days, and more photos are being taken now than ever before. Now is the time of quality over quantity. The remarkable is being buried by the mediocre. If you are a wedding photographer, there is a person that just bought a camera that can do it cheaper. Maybe not the same quality, but that doesn’t matter because supply is greater than demand. If you are a 50 year old photographer with 30 years under his belt that doesn’t matter. Now kids at the age of 14 are getting full frame cameras, with an f/1.2 lens, combined with Photoshop, and achieving a level of success you’ve been striving for your whole life. But I’ll tell you one thing that no one seems to put much thought into these days. Something that not just anyone can learn or will want to learn. It’s design. What are you waiting for?

Put the gear and Photoshop aside and learn techniques that may take a minute to learn at first, but will then push you leaps and bounds further than the rest. Dedicate an hour to studying and learning a technique. Another hour to practice…once a week. Then when you get comfortable, introduce a new technique, and increase your rate of practice. In six months you’ll have a grasp on the basics. In a year they will start to become second nature. You’ll see it in your work. Your followers will see it. In two years you’ll be fluent in the language of design. You’ll be producing work that will be imaginative,  sophisticated, and remarkable!

For some of us, art is all we have…our golden ticket…our legacy. It’s time to reignite design and celebrate the life it can breath back into your work!

If you are having doubts and are unsure about your capabilities, just listen to this song by Zack Hemsey and you will change your mind! 😀

“An interest in ‘earning a living’ tends to swamp all interest in the quality of what we do or make to earn it; with the natural result that there is an all-round deterioration in the quality of almost everything we make…” Harold Speed


Drawing by Harold Speed


  • Russell Spears

    Today commercial work seems so much better after the democratization of photography in general. The best are rising to the top with this open competition.

    Some of the old guard were able to get away with mediocre work 15 years ago, simply because they had a monopoly with trade secrets, high costs for equipment and expensive schooling, They were able to charge hefty fees for a shoot, that today, a kid down the street can do. The availability of the web allows everyone access to the knowledge and the affordability of great equipment has leveled the playing field. Today the only thing perventing the great potential of talented and commited photographers from adding to the collection of great commercial work is dedication to the craft alone…. The talent is there where they deserve to be-that is why the best can tell you all they know, it still takes a tremendous dedication to do good work.

  • Russell Spears

    I actually had a well known commercial photographer contact me one time when I was trying to organize a studio lighting meet-up group. He was lamenting the horrible use of lighting, small corporate budgets and those dame Mac Jockeys that did on the computer what took thousands in labor, fees, materials to do all In-Camera. He was interested in selling Continuous Lighting Kits and a booklet to teach people how to do good lighting and offer expensive classes (No Doubt the same way he was trained).

    I told him that, honestly, I would go to Home Depot and surf the web before I would buy his kit and that his best bet was to take the experiences he had and the knowledge he has and make some DVDs while he still can or start a YouTube Channel and be the go to source for information to a hungry generation media fanatics.

  • tavis

    You are right Russell, it takes dedication to become a great photographer! And that sucks about the commercial photographer trying to sell his services. Kudos to you for being honest with him. I don’t wish any true artist troublesome times, but if they are only in it for the money they’re just a slick salesman, undeserving of artistic success.

  • Ars Fantasio

    There is also another, critical aspect you can use to stand out, and you can hold up any old masterpiece against it and it will pass through: “Be timeless, be original and be revolutionary” This is a quote from Eiko Ishioka, I can only recommend the book about which I wrote on my blog: http://www.fantasio.info/2012/04/be-timeless-be-original-be.html
    Combined with all the information about composition, that is an amazing advantage 😉

  • tavis

    I agree completely Oliver! That book is a pretty penny, I’m glad it’s so inspiring. I like how you broke it down your thoughts on your blog. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jason Plevras

    Zack Hemsey is like Ireland’s response to Hans Zimmer

  • tavis

    Yeh, he’s really good!

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