on 12 May 2009
This was on the reading list for my course at the London College of Communication, so I thought I'd have a look.
It's a very nicely designed and laid out book (a common feature with this publisher I think). It offers a lot of insight into researching visually - something that I, as someone without an arts background, often find difficult to understand.
It's helped me develop a methodology for research - rather than just jumping blindly into a project and hoping for inspiration and ideas to hit me. This book is all about a structured approach to gathering visual material and analysing it, and using that research and analysis to overcome design problems.
There are some nice case studies to support the book's argument, including a particularly good one by Sarah Backhouse concerning the graphical representation of the passage of time in Stoker's Dracula.
I'd recommend this to anyone who's interested in the process of graphic design, students and designers both.
on 10 September 2010
Being of a visual mind and not one for pages and pages of text, this book was perfect for me to enhance my basic understanding of the design research process. Interested in graphic design but on a 3D degree course, this book clearly explained methods that I am now able to transfer to my own specialism of design.
Great layouts, lots of useful real life case studies on quality paper stock. Made by a publisher who specialises in the creative arts, they know exactly how to communicate effectively and each page has definitions of terms used within the text making this book more approachable and accessible to someone with basic knowledge of research methodologies without dumbing down the body of text.
Clear, focused and in full colour, this is another valuable book in my AVA collection and would recommend this title to all students embarking on a design based course, whether starting their first year or a masters.
on 4 August 2013
I bought my copy of this publication at the book launch held at the London College of Communication. It's been inscribed by both authors. From the late, great Ian Noble a stamp with the words 'try to make more mistakes'. A philosophical statement that reminds us of the necessary iterations behind most designed visual communications. And from Russ? An altogether more abrupt and confrontational response involving a profanity. This spontaneous gesture, whilst a light-hearted note to keep any lofty ideals about design in perspective, belies the real care and devotion afforded the subject in this second edition of Visual Research. This edition builds upon the first publication with a new chapter, new case studies and illustrations. Both editions are valuable investments in their own right.
As I begin this review I acknowledge the high profile testimonials from Jorge Frascara, Gunnar Swanson and Omar Vulpinara on the book cover, with an accompanying foreword by Ellen Lupton inside. What further and better recommendations would you need to purchase a copy?
I read the book in one sitting. This is perhaps not the best way to appreciate the contents. On reflection a better way might be to dwell on each section separately, perhaps as part of a weekly reading group at college or University. The book has taken the complex themes and debates around contemporary visual communication design and presented them in an accessible piece of writing. It is an ideal text book for graphic design students. It also affords a valuable insight into the design process for non specialists. Given the notion of converging subject disciplines and increasing acknowledgement of the importance of visual literacy and communication this book is very timely.
In my view good information design begins with an analysis and considered presentation of the text. Whilst there will always be debate around the individual stylistic choices of designers, each spread has been carefully thought through in terms of the word count and developing narrative. This aids the reader both in the sense of achieving milestones within the text and allowing intervals to reflect on the themes presented. The running glossaries at the foot of the page worked exceptionally well in providing 'fast-track' information. I really appreciated the simplicity of these - often one bold word heading with a single caption. For those wishing to dip in and out of the text, this is a useful device in referencing the key ideas.
The strength of both editions of this book is in the visual case studies. Here you will see the sometimes seemingly abstract theories put into practice as integral strategies in the development of the conceptual ideas. The projects are thought-provoking, humorous and at times poignant. I couldn't help but think of the passing of Ian Noble and how we have remembered him when I read the project 'Memorial'.
Graphic designers should aim to be informed, engaged and reflective practitioners. Bestley and Noble have dissected the design process and transported it from the realm of mystery to something that is explainable and understandable. In doing so they have provided an excellent resource for students studying on design courses. I would implore all students to read this text in becoming the next generation of visually responsible designers. If you are a professional wanting an aid to reflection this is a refreshing read. It changed my disposition and it made me feel more confident in a paper I have recently written.
As a course leader I am often asked by prospective students what books I would recommend them to read before joining the course. On visual research (research methods, methodologies, theories and practices) this is the one. The book is a seductive read and you will find yourself inspired and empowered in equal measures through the knowledge you will acquire from reading this book. This knowledge will underpin confidence in your practice.
Russ and Ian have striven to elevate the subject of graphic design beyond that of a pure service industry. With this book we have a lot to thank them for.