Home, Why Write?, Essay, 2021

You begin to write because you realize the stupidity of the society and the critics, which you may have known, and that this is harming you, and that there is not a group of people who don't write who are more knowledgeable than those who do. Therefore, you do it for yourself.
— Donald Judd, Donald Judd Writings, 2016.

I’m a graphic designer who writes. I don’t consider myself a writer and nor do I consider myself fluent or even confident in the writing process. It’s rather frustrating for me to write compared to sitting down and designing. However, the overlap between my writing and graphic design process are one in the same. Starting with letterforms to create sentences to build paragraphs to communicate an idea with the addition of images or form to help contextualize those ideas. The combination of words and images is what brought me into graphic design and what got me further interested in writing. Letterforms inherently being at the core of what we do and it doesn’t stop there. You begin to crave this experience of composing letterforms when these ideas that you are trying to communicate create new and unexpected connections to other ideas, thoughts or feelings.

Upon leaving the cushioned framework of design school and as I began working at small studios to large technology companies these connections, thoughts and feelings of despair grew stronger. Teaching design and composing someone else’s ideas through letters, words and sentences wasn’t enough, I needed to present my own. It felt obvious for me to take the step into writing for these reasons and little did I know that it would open up a new perspective into the profession I hold so dear. What is the future of graphic design? What is the role of the graphic designer in 2021? How will slack and direct messaging influence design criticism? How do we create new languages to speak about graphic design? How do we decolonize and reshape design education? How can we address accessibility in identity systems? Does the world even need another graphic design studio? I’m interested in the transaction between these ideas and letterforms, while dissecting them through the lens of criticism, discourse and research. Of course, I hope to do so while just being a graphic designer who writes.

“When you build a thing you cannot merely build that thing in isolation, but must also repair the world around it, and within it, so that the larger world at that one place becomes more coherent, and more whole; and the thing which you make takes its place in the web of nature, as you make it.“ — Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein, A Pattern Language, 1977.

Email, Twitter, Instagram, Are.na

Last updated: April 26, 2022

© Anthony Zukofsky 2012–2022.