I remember that afternoon I was waiting for the metro-link train on the station platform of UMSL-North station and had a brief conversation with a classmate about grid. It was right after a class which introduced the “grid” concept, both of us were still carrying the new term/concept and to me, I enjoy exchanging ideas in design every now and then.
“I would never use grid in my work.” He said it loud with confidence. I understood his frustration and replied with “I hear you,” I assumed that he considered the grid, like an obstacles in design, and grid is blocking his creativity as designer. I hope I didn’t get it wrong since we hadn’t get a chance to talk about it later that day as the metro-link train was approaching to us. “It is helpful in content organizing,” my voice came out of somewhere. And that short conversation sparked a conflict on my mind, and it paves a road in my career to accept that there are different opinion in the design world.
Design is a pretty free direction profession, you can go with different ways to get the jobs done, but it also comes with disciplines and guidelines. And grid, like styles, is one of those guidelines which set limits on where your types should stop, and what your graphics should be aligned with to support the goal. The disciplines stand on your ways in idea developing, they remind you that we have rules to follow, which insidiously construct processes in graphic design and help designer to identify the purpose of each step in design.
If one of the core values in design is to organize the content for better transferring the message, grid is a tool to support that, to build better reading experience.
Grid helps building up hierarchy, it also helps creating structure in every piece of design work, big or small. With grid, we align types and graphic, build up visual clarity. Along with style setting, the content would be organized and in orders. One of the examples, grid helps layout to maintain columns, gutter and margins, these are the first aesthetic impression in a publication. It helps setting up a canvas to help readers walk through the content in an orderly fashion.
It is interesting that a conversation like that could remain on my mind, and naturally, design elements links knowledge and memory on every designer’s mind. To me, grid, like other design tools, has its important role in field. It helps setting up a canvas for designer and help reader walk through the content in an orderly fashion, and it helps creativity.