Yes to design democracy

A big, bold, underlined, highlighted Y-E-S.

Since the world embraced the cult of the amateur, as digital media pessimist Andrew Keen calls it, many started to resent the democratization of previously untouchable fields, making it available to everyone, and making everyone a quote-unquote expert.


'Cause, see, it's easy to blog. It's easy to Photoshop. It's easy to Google. It's easy to Windows Movie Maker. I can be a publisher, you can be a designer, my toddler sister can be a researcher and my gen-Xer Mom can be a filmmaker. No formal training required. No tuition fees. No books. Just time, minimal wizardry and a Facebook account.

Purists condemn ease. Ease is death to art, they say. It's an age-old conjecture tracing back to the birth of photography -- a now-accepted medium they used to call non-art. They said the same of fauvism, and then the world looked up to Matisse. Big deal.

Don't get me wrong, everyone can discriminate. Like when I gave up studying digital photography when people my age started buying entry-level digital SLR cameras and snapped every minute of their days. So I put my camera back in its box in an attempt to preserve my vain individuality. Plus, I never read Harry Potter to deviate from the muggle bandwagon.

But then came design and Photoshop. Same thing. They say it's not art, it's easy, the experience of it is not of the creative process that comes from within.
Oh. come. on.
A blank page is a blank page. A professional, traditional artist starts with a blank page as much as a dork Photoshopper does. The former's creative process can be as much as the latter's.

DeviantArt.com, for example, features all sorts of digital artists, from the crudest to the finest. It's a real design democracy. Skills are of different levels, but they don't determine expertise in communicating ideas or executing good taste. There might be an explosion of so-called artists and it might seen at first glance to be a dilution of the highbrow.

At closer look though, standards are higher than ever with the increase in wisdom, competition and visual noise generated. A good design is still a good design, and a bad design still is a bad design. But the ones who will stand out are still indisputably those who are most gifted and politically savvy.

Saying the old is better than the new, and that the traditional should be more esteemed than the fresh and easy are just non sequitur. #

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