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Step Back to Go Forward

Posted by Tim Downs 6 years ago 0

Step back to go forward:ScreenPrint
Finding inspiration in the roots of our craft.
To know me is to understand that I am obsessed with technology. I am writing this blog from a Bluetooth keyboard connected wirelessly to my Apple iPhone with the new iOS4.0 operating system.
Yeah, yeah, I know, a true tech wonk would be writing on an iPad, but alas, I am eagerly awaiting the next version of that life-changing device. I need a camera inside before I plunk down my coin.
Technology has absolutely revolutionized design over the past 20 years, and it shows no sign of slowing. Entire industries within the printing and design fields have all but vanished in the name of progress and the desire for applications that will let a designer visualize and produce their dreams in record time.
I believe in this progress, as painful as it may be to those of us just old enough to remember cutting rubylith or approving pages on Chromalin or Matchprints. The productivity and flexibility gains we have made through technology have forced us to be Jacks (and Jills) of all trades—part dreamer, part designer, and largely but sadly, part production artist. Now don’t get me wrong, good production artists are life-savers to us all, and I have an absolute appreciation for their talent and skill. But as designers, the mindset of production squelches the creativity we need to create inspiring work. Technology puts the power—and total control—of our project completely in our own hands
Every once in a while, though, due to this constant need to be on top of every new software release and life-altering gadget, my little human brain hurts. After all, there is only so much we can absorb before the sponge begins seeping. It’s times like those when we start focusing more on how to do what we are doing than why.
It’s the dangerous time when burnout can slowly start replacing our creativity with tried-and-true rehashed design solutions from our past. We need to be aware of the technology overload warning signs, and always be prepared with a solution.
Here’s one of mine:
We have been busy at Outreach—very busy. Due to the success of the film TO SAVE A LIFE and related Youth and Church curricula, we are launching a new DVD-based youth study called Life Choices, as well as a host of other new products to help teens navigate the turbulent waters into which life has pitched them. When we design new products like these, as well as our magazine and upcoming seasonal direct-mail postcard, banner, and bulletin designs, this office can really begin to hum. To keep my creativity at its most, well, creative, I try to cast off all this technology and get back to the roots of why I chose visual storytelling as my life’s work.
This past weekend, I spent a few hours using my graphic design background, my creative energy, and a whole lot of patience screen-printing. I screen-printed not for work, but for me, just to remember the smooth slippery feeling of the acrylic ink, the tactile quality of the screen separating from the newly printed page, and the wonder of my craft coming to life before my eyes.
Whether it’s screen-printing, painting, drawing, sculpting or any other creative pursuit, we need to remember the why—why we do this, why we chose this, and why we will continue to share our gift of creativity with the world around us.
So, creatively recharged, I headed back to the office today with all my technology—all those applications, displays, keyboards and hard drives waiting for me to sit down with them to create. And though my weekend of arcane low-fi art was a true shot to the arm, I kinda missed them.
Keep your eye on Outreach over the next few weeks as we reveal some of the many new books, campaigns, curricula and Christmas church products we have been building to see what all this fuss is about!


Tim Downs is the Art Director for the award-winning Outreach magazine and Creative Director for Outreach, Inc. With over 20 years of consumer magazine, marketing and advertising experience, Tim brings his insights on design issues, management and creativity to you each month to help you share your gifts for outreach.

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