Ryan McGinness says design school taught him to place the burden of understanding and communication on the creator not the viewer.
Question: What did you learn from design school?
McGinness: The Carnegie Mellon Design Program, I assume it’s still is today but when I was there, it’s very rigorous and disciplined program and it was an exciting… it was very exciting for me because it was so rigorous and it was unlike the Art Program which is a little more free form. I learned and took away how to communicate visually, I learned about very concrete formal aspects of what it takes to build a picture plane, how to use color, shape, form, composition, typography, and I think… and what I’ve done with those skill sets and those tools is employ those for myself as opposed to employ for… or on behalf of a corporation or an advertisement or a packaging or something like that which is what most people do with what they come up with a Design Program with but I wasn’t interested in that.
Question: Do you recommend formal training for every aspiring artist?
McGinness: Oh absolutely because I think young people are interested in art or might be interested in anything… they’re hungry for something real and concrete to hold onto and use as a foundation and you get that in the Design Program. I don’t know if you really get that in a Painting Program without the program running the risk of being like a trade school of sorts. So I would absolutely recommend it for anyone who’s interested in learning how to communicate visually and that’s really what art is, it’s visual communication and what I also took away from the Design Program is the sense of responsibility as a creator for communicating so if someone looks at one of my paintings and doesn’t walk away with something or get something or if the painting fails to communicate, then it’s my fault and I think… one of the reasons why I make art is essentially because I don’t like art, I don’t like a lot of art and one of the things that I don’t like about it is it makes… it’s alienating, it’s off putting, it makes people dumb, it makes people feel like the burden of understanding it is on them, you know, if you don’t get it then it’s your fault and I’m interested in flipping that around and placing the burden of communication on the creator and that’s something that I took away from the Design Program at Carnegie Mellon. If something… if what you create fails to communicate, it’s your fault or you can kind of need to retool and rethink what you’re doing, yeah.