The term ‘designers’ is an umbrella term for a plethora of people and their careers, from graphic designers and illustrators to product and interaction designers but I believe that we all need a basic building block in common –  a basic visual literacy. Where drawing is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as to “Produce (a picture or diagram) by making lines and marks on paper with a pencil, pen, etc”, visual literacy as explained on, is “defined as the ability to interpret images as well as generate images for communicating ideas and concepts.” I believe that a designer is defined by their level of visual literacy but not necessarily their sketching and drawing skills. There are ways of getting round being a poor sketcher.

One might argue that a graphic designer might be3d-printing defined by their ability to use complex design software or a product designer must be able to use laser cutters and 3D printers, and initially I thought fact that these are the last finishing steps in the design process. Technology allows us to create a final, polished piece of design at the end but I would have expected the design to have started off as a sketch or doodle. However, during a discussion with my reading group, someone pointed out that thanks to the availability of programmes like Photoshop, people who would struggle to clearly convey their ideas and photoshopdesigns through hand drawn sketches can now translate these ideas digitally and produce very effect final designs. This made me think of the fact that in high school, if you had illegible handwriting, you were allowed to type your answers in exams. To me, this is the design equivalent and from one angle you’d say what’s the problem, these people have great ideas and this amazing technology is allowing them to convey their ideas to the rest of the world. And yet sketching is such a large part of the thinking and development process.ted-doodle

People don’t always make the connection between thinking and drawing. If you are drawing in a maths lesson, is it assumed that you are not paying attention. Although admittedly much doodling is  ‘mindless’, for a large proportion of people it is their subconscious way of processing information. In a recent study led by Professor Jackie Andrade, the head of Psychology at the University of Plymouth (England), a group of 40 participants was divided in half. Both groups listened to a 2the-listening-doodle-study-originalvoicemail and later had to recall as much information about it as possible but one group were allowed to sketch abstract doodles whilst they listened and the other group did not. The doodling group later recalled 29% more information that the non-sketching

Drawing is the first way we try to make sense of the wkids-drawingorld. Kids draw, even be it scribbling
with crayons but drawing all the same, before they can speak. Above, Sunni Brown’s diagram shows how every child goes through specific developmental stages of exploring through doodles. From a very early age, it is our way of processing the information that is bombarded at us all day every day. To quote Alma Hoffmann of Smashing Magazine (2012) “It comes from a need to give physical form to one’s thoughts.” Designers are doing just the same when they sketch – processing more information, simplifying and converting the inspirations around them to work towards a design.



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Image Sources:

  1. 3D printing Source
  2. Photoshop Technology Source
  3. My image (doodle)
  4. The Listening Doodle Source
  5. The artistic process unfolding Source
  6. Kid’s drawing Source  accessed on 04/10/2016