Design Seminar at the Life and Arts Festival

The Life and Arts Festival in Kelowna, BC, is an amazing cultural event with street performers, art shows, workshops, music, drums, lanterns and fireshows.

Fire Show at the Kelowna Life and Arts Festival
On May 13th, I attended two design seminars in the ‘Design for Life’ exhibit. In the first presentation, designer Phred Martin spoke about the evolution of a design project. He stressed that design is not all about the creator; design stems from the client and in order to acheive the best results it is important to research your client’s interests, goals, and their target market. It is important to really know what the client wants, and then to interpret their needs, make a decision and get going on it!

One of the ideas that stood out in my mind was when Phred said that “excellence is great”, but “perfection is ugly”. He said that in his work sometimes he strives not to make his designs perfect. Perfection can be cold and boring, whereas imperfection can be interesting and unique.

In the end, perfectionism will also cost you more money and eat away at your bottom line. Unless your clients want to pay for your extra time, you need to be able to wrap up a project confidently and be happy with your work.

Don’t overwork design to hardened perfection; walk away while it is still alive and fresh.

From my experience with watercolours, sometimes the best thing you can do for a painting is to put down your brush. It’s when you keep working on a painting too long that you mess it up. With design there must be a parallel.

Furniture designer Judson Beaumont said he looks beyond the obvious to keep his work fresh. He said you have to be able to take critism, but don’t listen to people when they say “you can’t do that” or “it’s not done that way”. He said comments like that make him just go ahead and prove them wrong. He said you should take chances with design and challenge yourself to try new things.

Star of lanterns made with tissue and jars by elementary school studentsThe panelists also talked about clarity of expression and how good design means that even if it is bare bones, you don’t feel deprived. Someone mentioned that “the more you know, the less you need.”

Many businesses want to put everything about their business in every advertisement, even if it is a 2 inch ad. By researching your client’s needs and being familiar with compositional strengths, a good designer can say a lot more with less. Done well, simplicity always gives a stronger message than clutter.

The speakers also talked about social responsibility and the impact of design on the environment and on society. It is important for all designers to look at their work from a global perspective. It is so easy to get enmeshed in your work. Take some time to pull back and see the whole picture.

In the end, the most inspiring part of the festival for me was the lantern display in the Island Park. Jars covered in tissue paper by elementary school students from all around Kelowna were lit with tea lights, and they were set about to adorn a gazebo and the path up to it. Glowing in their simplicity, colourful and bright, they lit up the night in their imperfect beauty.

Lantern display at the Life and Arts Festival: jars covered in tissue paper lit with tea lights.

Filed under: Design.

2 Responses to “Design Seminar at the Life and Arts Festival”

  1. K A R I™ says:

    Those jars are so pretty!

  2. I can’t still agree. I always want to write in my site something like that but I think you’r faster.

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