Response to: Made to Measure by Allen Tan for Issue No. 4 & Default Systems in Graphic Design: a discussion between Rob Giampietro and Rudy VanderLans about guilt and loss in graphic design. By Lia Petronio

The two essays discuss the systematic implements of computer programs graphic and web design. The concept of “default” system is reoccurring, Rob describing its actuality and Allen providing a solution called “tailoring” or editorial design. This idea sort of agrees with Rob, in that is suggests a program that is made to be overridden. A way of designing, similar in process to consumer engineering, that is to be altered optimally. The thing is, however, that this still does not get so close to confronting the issues Rob brings forward about systems of the design programs themselves, such as InDesign, Illustrator, etc. So Allen’s case gets half way there with “tailoring” individual web pages to suit its own content, and creating a system that can be tailored conveniently. It is the tailoring that may still be individually subject to default systems of design, and therefore is but a small solution that will not satisfy those who think more radically and passionately. Allen makes logical points but it seems these points are not nearly innovative enough to empower design and the designer and free him from the grid, nor template design, which I believe is default by nature. It is skeletal and barren of the very empowerment design is in need of, if it is to ever break free from advertisemental cliché and democratic surrender. The democratization of art, and design, degrades it to a point of amateur visuals designed by anyone who can get others to agree to actually use it. From there the billboard effect comes into play, and the viewers become passive and the views become hollow enterprises, like the face of a dictator decorating the streets where air used to be. A classic way to address the conservation of safe democratic design, would be to analyze it from within. To begin with the program which today, is the heart of design. When are we defaulting? What is not default? What happens when design is separated from exterior content and becomes its own content?