Speed is of the essence

In studio, I’ve been working with the provocation, “What is the role of craftsmanship in a discipline distinguished by speed?” After reading, discussing, and concept-mapping, I identified (fancy!) five recurring themes/nodes: quality, imperfection, artisan/al, easy, and technology. Does “technology” make speed “easy”? Does “quality” require “imperfection”? Etc.

I decided to do a timed exercise to see how craft is affected by the speed of digital practices – my particularized version of the initial provocation. The rules: Craft ten spreads that meditate on each of those pre-selected nodes. Only spend ten minutes per spread. No revisions. They all must be done digitally.

Some observations:

  1. Ten minutes goes by really fast – at first. By the sixth spread, I was checking the timer, just wanting to be done.
  2. My text initially had to be “profound.” I used quotes from the readings I had done to spark these meditations. It got pretentious quickly. And I got bored.
  3. Then, I started writing up my thoughts about each node in relation to the reading, but also my approach to making that particular spread.
  4. These turned more stream-of-consciousness as I fought the clock to generate more content.
  5. Earlier spreads were “crazier” to justify the speed at which they were being produced.
  6. at some points, it stopped feeling like graphic design and more like an artist’s book.
  7. Speed makes me think I’m losing control of craftsmanship.
  8. I didn’t really use the grid system I had set up and worked more with a blank canvas. The spreads became more about overall image, like a drawing.
  9. Working so quickly pushed me to make. I couldn’t end with nothing. It was a good way to jump start creativity. If you’re ever stuck on a project, I’d recommend trying this exercise, just for kicks.