story of science vs. art programsIt was computer scientists in the 1980's who programmed what has become the illustration software of today. At the time, programmers were focused entirely on engineering aspects of the software; considerations of artistic acceptability were not taken into full account. For many design professionals, this is an outstanding problem, even as they appreciate the benefits such software has provided over the years.
The conveniences these programs offered for print and publication drove them into popular usage in the 1990's. The ease of laying out precision type and graphics overcame any aesthetic objections people had. Professional designers could work entirely in computer files that could be passed around to co-workers and modified on demand. As a result, these programs quickly replaced graphic design studio tables and traditional tools, for better and worse.
These programs shape our urban and commercial environment in comprehensive ways and are now the source of corporate logos to signage of nearly any kind as a person walks down the street of a major city. Commercial product packaging is now completely dependent on them.
According to designers, the software company Adobe has effectively swallowed the fields of commercial art, graphics, and professional illustration because of how central computers have become to modern work and how it is tied to the Internet. Not using an Adobe product for professional graphic design is now equated with not having a career.
Additionally, these programs, because they were made in early computer days, lack crucial artistic ability in a multitude of areas compared to hand-drawn work and they also promote commonplace, default design behavior based on the functions of the programs. Designs, logos, and page layouts that are not actually good or professionally-made can still look like they were because of the computer and laser printer handling all of the line work that would normally be done by hand. Many times these programs allow people to produce plain or bland designs that come off as passable anyway to the typical viewer because of the computer and laser printer taking care of all aspects of the final product's craft, color, and line work.
When compared to the craft required in traditional hand drawing and illustration, these programs are extremely lacking in capacity even as they provide rapid reproduction capacities and alluring special effects. They confine users of the software to a specific set of computer moves to accomplish designs and provide a continuous illusion that using them is exactly as effective as drawing by hand, even though they only use a computer mouse. What becomes more important is how to manipulate the program to do something rather than dealing with the actual product being made. Making genuinely good things with them is still an onerous task for certain things, no matter how skilled a person normally is with art and graphics in real life. Skilled graphic designers become obligated to learn involved technical aspects of the program just to accomplish what they could do normally by hand in a few minutes. Most important to note: the products made with them today take on a similar, monotonous computer-based appearance due to the functionality of the programs dictating their outcome:
The programs themselves do not conform to any standards of art, but allow people to feel that they do on account of their ability to produce end products quickly in multiple combinations on short demand, with special effects. The illustration programs we have today caught on because of their automated and alluring design functions, despite their lacking any inherent artistic sense; though people do manage to produce artwork with them, quality is difficult to achieve and even requires learning tricks to make things look normal.