Visual Intelligence by Armando Vilas-Boas
Digital social networks are one facet of the ever more complex digital technology, because to the immediacy factor they add interconnectivity: we can be in constant communication with everyone almost anywhere. More effective technological media will emerge in the near future to once and for all terminate any shred of privacy we may still have—as well as our peace of mind—making sure that all humans will be digitally connected to each other, whether we want it or not.
The average citizen is now increasingly endowed with an extraordinary power of communication, especially on the visual level, which leaves visual designers in an awkward position. We used to hold the tools to communicate visually but these tools are now available to anyone. How do we respond to this? We know that our trade is still valid (and worthy), because we can feel that, but how do we react to this avalanche of visual messages produced by amateurs without training?
On most design courses the result should be as relevant as the process by which is was achieved. The reasoning is as follows: you can have a result of variable efficiency but at the base level there always lays a solid process. It’s the edification of a personal process of thinking and doing that will make the difference in the marketplace: an efficient result can be met by accident but no one can produce a steadily good outcome time and time again without following a consistent design process.
Encouraging design students to discover the modus operandi best suited to their profile has the advantage of bringing up the best in everyone, as time goes by. Their work isn’t trendy but rather a direct consequence of each student’s process.
A good process must highlight two factors: visual intelligence and visual ability. An excellent visual designer holds these two skills and can’t spare either one of them. Visual intelligence is built from sensibility and method, together with one’s visual culture and the way one can convert these two ingredients upon visual ideas capable of efficiently communicating contents. The visual ability refers to the capacity of elaborating visual messages: the domain of tools and materials. Visual ability is something to be taught at undergraduate level, while visual intelligence must be a primary goal for postgraduate courses.
In other words, if the students are already capable of doing then they should acquire the capacity of thinking. And if they already hold that capacity then they ought to stimulate it to the maximum extent. Because this is where the line is drawn between those who are designers and those who do design. Anyone can do design, be it good or bad. But being a designer calls for reasons for one to do what one does the way one does it.
Armando Vilas-Boas – MA Design Course Leader
London School of Design and Marketing