Rick Poynor | Essays

Adventures in the Image World

This is a blog about visual culture. It reflects my interests, enthusiasms, concerns and bêtes noires across the spectrum of visual phenomena.

Naturally, I’ll be observing design here, but the blog won’t be held hostage by that task. It can’t be. The area of design that preoccupies me most ― communication design ― is usually a means to an end. It exists in relation to something else. It’s a communicative surface, a connective tissue: the visible part of an object or experience that pulls in the viewer or reader.

We can’t begin to assess graphic communication without also taking an interest in the enterprises and subject matter that it bolsters and interprets. It was my passion for the media to which design gives form ― books, magazines, art, music, and films ― that led me to design in the first place. I became fascinated by the extra dimension of meaning that good design can supply, and aware of the many ways that poor design can hamstring otherwise notable projects.

So expect to find items here about photography, film, illustration, digital media, graphic novels, visual literature and popular culture; periodic forays into art and fiction; and perhaps the occasional look at advertising (though probably not to applaud it), as well as heavy-duty graphic design topics.
I have always been interested in forms of visual communication that fall between strict definitions of art and design. There will be plenty of unapologetic boundary hopping and shameless category collisions in this column, too.

The more commerce attempts to corral and confine design and the image world for its own purposes, the more we need to seek out, savor and support work that connects with areas of experience other than lifestyle and celebrity ― work that is awkward, offbeat, difficult, socially challenging, strange or fantastical and that offers vital, mind and spirit sustaining alternatives to the insidious, corporatized monoculture.

If any of this sounds like your kind of thing, then please jump aboard.

Posted in: Technology, Theory + Criticism

Comments [5]

That makes sense. Agree with that. Visual communication is always the same but always different.
Raul PerezDuarte

It's nice to see you back at DO.
marian bantjes

I'm jumping aboard with great excitement. Looking forward to reading on.
Mark Webster

A nice self-introduction that is marred by a somewhat immature and naive perspective on the value and necessity of commerce. Steer clear of 'advertising'? Come now - you may as well not bother writing a blog about visual culture at all if you feel you have to hold your nose every time you write the word. By the way, I believe Design Observer operates as an LLC - so aren't you then just a pawn of 'corporate monoculture' yourself? Or am I too simplistic in thinking that all corporate entities are demonic ipso facto? In any case, best of luck with your new venture. Maybe it will be like a fine wine and get better as it ages.


Joe Moran

Jobs | May 19