Before I had done any research, read books, watched TED talks, I thought I would write down my view on the question first.
No. I do not think designers can be defined by their sketching and drawing skills. A great product designer can physically make a model, or a prototype of their idea amazingly well, and to a fantastic standard, but their sketches may not be as strong as their scale models.This to me, doesn’t mean that they are not a good designer, as not everyone can design things, and actually make them become a reality. This should not define the strength of their creativity. Some drawings and sketches even though, they mean absolutely nothing to us, they can mean so much, and make complete sense to the designer who has taken the time to sketch or draw them. And they help the designer go through the process of making their sketch become a reality. Take Zaha Hadid. She has designed some of the worlds best architectural based buildings and yet if you look at the quality of her sketches, they seem very, very poor and don’t tend to make much sense in comparison to the quality and design of the final buildings.
To me, personally these sketches look like messy scribbles. Yet, they have been the starting points to the creations of some incredibly tasteful buildings.
As part of my research into the question of ‘Are Designers Defined by their Drawing and Sketching Skills?’ I read part of the book called ‘The Back of the Napkin’ by Dan Roam. I hadn’t realised that by reading a book, or article or by watching a clip of a TED talk that it would change my view on the way we see things. On reflection of this, I was really surprised at how my view was changing. The chapter I read from this book really made my mind think in a different way in relation to the process my brain goes through when sketching and coming up with ideas myself.
I had always thought that, as all artists and designers are different, it wouldn’t really matter if you couldn’t sketch or draw very well, as long as you can pitch your idea across in some way or another. However, from reading this and completing the ‘Bird-Dog Drill’ in the book I now realise, this may not always be the case. We were forced to think of a situation and picture the situation in our heads without having time to sketch it out or draw the scenario out. I have come to a new realisation on if designers are being defined by their drawings and sketches, as this task was making you think in your head, not making you sketch down or draw what you were thinking. Going through this process of coming up with your own scenario and what that looks like in your head had really got me to think more of the visual side of seeing and designing.
The scenario I built up in my head using the Bird-Dog Drill. A scene in Central Park, New York, with my friend out walking out dog and playing catch with the ball. My friend and her baby out for a walk, with the birds in the sky flying over the tall buildings around the park.
My brain started to think of sketching and drawing as a way to express your feelings of design rather than actually drawing the design and the accuracy of the design or image itself. As someone who feels their sketching skills are the weakest point of their design methods, I felt this sketch from the book really identified my mind when thinking about sketching or drawings.
From page 74 of The Back of the Napkin.
Part of this was realising what we were actually looking for and what we were seeing. We had to define what each thing was, and how we incorporate that into our designs, whether that be drawings or sketches.
From this, my opinion on designers being defined by their sketching and drawing abilities has changed slightly. To a degree I still feel the same as I did before, however, from thinking about it from more of a visual side my view has changed. I feel like if a designer cannot showcase their design, either through drawings or sketches, they way they want their design then, maybe they should be defined on their ability to sketch or draw their ideas. I understand that being a designer is in some ways about working as a team and getting people in your team to help build up the strength of your weak factors, however the main design has to come from somewhere and if the lead designer cannot explain and show their work to their team in the specific way they want the design to look, then maybe the designer should be defined by their drawing and sketching skills.