Beautiful and Gone

Mendelson’s mention of the Tennessee Williams’ quote “How beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken” naturally made me think about designer Martin Venezky’s book It is Beautiful… Then Gone which is essentially the same phrase, only in Venezky’s case it is talking about his practice in graphic design instead of about families and broken dreams. I think it is an accurate portrayal of design?—?or at least, of the kind of design I tend to be intrigued by. It is a game of proaction and reaction; we (visual makers) proactively make design decisions and begin to move forward in our process, but we also are constantly reacting to numerous ideas, constraints, feedback, etc..Working at the edge of reason, the edge of predictability, the edge of the communication, like Venezky does, means that sometimes, maybe often, design is fleeting. Sometimes you are just hoping to make something wonderful happen. You are not coloring inside the lines, you are not resetting the logotype in twenty different sans serif typefaces, you are not tweaking your baseline grid just so … you are wandering and chasing Nabakov’s butterfly, and just for that moment when you catch one-—it is beautiful. The next moment?—?it is gone. But not knowing when or where or how the beauty will reveal itself is part of what makes being a design so much damn fun. Every day, every moment is new. When it is not new, it is time to move on. Which is partially why I am sitting in this room reading you this essay in the first place.

Written in response to the following readings:
Excerpt from Nabokov’s Butterflies, Dmitry Nabakov
Excerpt from How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken, Daniel Mendelsohn
Selections from The War Against Cliché, Martin Amis