The Beautiful Messy: Handmade Elements in Post-postmodern Graphic Design

By Nikki Arnell.

Published by The International Journal of Visual Design

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Once upon a time, art happened when its creator combined the physical and mental skill into a form that inevitably spoke of its source to the recipient. It seems that in this time of technological development, a return to obviously handmade techniques is thriving in the digital world. The details of handmade elements and the process of their execution that live comfortably in and with the digital world draw attention to the originator of the message. The public is becoming less concerned with what is said and more with why it is said, seeing themselves as witnesses to the idiosyncratic thoughts of this individual in the mass-produced, digital world where it is less expected. This style invites conversation, and it seems the goal is to remove the aesthetic distance or simple message delivery and instead create an intimate experience of the content. In this way, even everyday design interaction becomes a professed gift. This is a step beyond the sterile message delivery of modern design’s universal truth and the overloaded, often sarcastic postmodern. Moving into the mainstream commercial world, handmade elements play perfectly into brand loyalty as consumers construct their identity via its brand choices.

Keywords: Postmodern, Post-postmodern, Messy, Handmade, Style, Branding

The International Journal of Visual Design, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.27-52. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.724MB).

Prof. Nikki Arnell

Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, College of Fine Arts, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR, USA

An obsession with the communicative aspect of art led Nikki Arnell to advertising. After acquiring a degree at Indiana University with a double major in studio art and journalism, she transplanted to the other side of the country. In Denver, Colorado she began a decade in the fast-paced and exciting world of advertising. From design for local shops to art direction for mega-brands like Procter & Gamble and Coors Brewing Company, this time provided experiential education and awards. However, an unexpected teaching job while freelancing changed her desired career path, and so she returned to school to earn a Master of Fine Arts. At Colorado State University as both a student and a teacher, traditional fine arts and art theory formed another dimension to the communication of her art. Juried art exhibitions equaled a profitable commercial sell. Her graphic design shuffled out of the expected computer formula and instead mixed disciplines, technologies, and experimented in the levels of communication per context. Immediately after receiving the degree, Ms. Arnell took a faculty position with Arkansas State University’s Art Department where she plans to continue pushing the expected in graphic design by balancing the commercial sell and gallery aesthetic.