(Ray)
(Fogra 29_WF)Job:08-28858 Title:RP-Writing & Research for Graphic Designers
#175 Dtp:225 Page:12
001-017_28858.indd 12 8/30/12 4:34 PM
(Ray)
(Fogra 29_WF)Job:08-28858 Title:RP-Writing & Research for Graphic Designers
#175 Dtp:225 Page:13
001-017_28858.indd 13 8/30/12 4:34 PM
(Text)
WHY I
WRITE
concieving
research
analyzing
organizing
WRITING = DESIGN
structuring
(Ray)
(Fogra 29_WF)Job:08-28858 Title:RP-Writing & Research for Graphic Designers
#175 Dtp:225 Page:12
001-017_28858.indd 12 8/30/12 4:33 PM
(Text)
Why do I write? I write, therefore I am. I need the
intellectual and emotional stimulation that the act
of putting down ideas in the form of words on paper
and screen gives me. Writing is the culmination of a
process of conceiving, researching, analyzing, ordering,
and structuring. Writing is design.
So it makes sense that I write mostly about design.
As a kid, I thought I wanted to be an historian. My uncle, a former Columbia professor of American
studies, taught me the pleasure of studying history. I loved reading historical tomes (especially about the
Civil War and The New Deal), yet I had little patience for the rigors of academics. I was never a very good
student. So I compensated for my scholarly deficiencies by writing and drawing. Indeed, I once handed in
an illustrated paper on “isms,” which was entirely plagiarized from a text that was, predictably, familiar to
my teacher (at least he hadn’t written it; now that would have been embarrassing). I received an F for the
paper, but he gave me an A for the satiric artwork. It was a wash.
This act triggered an epiphany. My pictures were visualized words, and if I could conjure my own images,
I could also write my own words. Although I didn’t bother to rewrite the “isms” paper to get a better
grade as my teacher suggested, I did begin to do more original research and write more original prose for
subsequent history assignments. I wrote incessantly and took uncanny enjoyment in rereading my own
words aloud to myself. I wanted to get the rhythm right. The one thing I missed, however, was a real focus
for my writing.
Every writing teacher says to write what you know. Passion is the ticket to success. And my particular
passion was for art, but not just any art: I favored the satiric kind. But not just any satiric art either; rather,
the radically strident political commentary that shot barbs at fat cats and besotted cows, images that were
caustic and indelible, like Goya’s stern “Disasters of War.” I found my initial métier was writing about
how satire fought folly (and sometimes won).
As fate would have it, all those pictures paid off. When I was twenty-four, I was hired as art director of
the New York Times Op-Ed page. Years before I began, that valuable real estate opposite the editorial page
was already a revolution in journalism and journalistic illustration. Its visual personality was built on a
foundation of satiric art history, and in order to do a credible job, I delved into the study of the eighteenth
(Ray)
(Fogra 29_WF)Job:08-28858 Title:RP-Writing & Research for Graphic Designers
#175 Dtp:225 Page:13
001-017_28858.indd 13 8/30/12 4:33 PM

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