Taking Note

The Power of Pen and Paper

As a child, learning how to read and write was a liberating thing. You received the power to communicate with language and express yourself through that language, too. I grew up with journals, sketchbooks, planners, sticky notes, pencils, and pens. Although technology has most of us typing out our ideas and swiping sketches on a tablet, I still find writing things down as a valuable and life-enhancing habit.


Writing Things Down

From practicing the alphabet on lined sheets to planners in high school, I grew up writing things down. Initially to appease my teachers as to not forget that there would be a test next week. But I also like writing - not because I am a great writer, but because I have great penmanship! I like to write, because my writing style visually represents who I am and how I communicate. From a quick, flowy cursive jotting to a precise and even captions on project posters. In school, my handwriting was recognized and complimented because it was neat and legible. I cherished this skill, because in a way people saw me in my writing.

When I studied design in college, learning about typography changed my world. There was a profession solely on designing words and letterforms! It was amazing to learn about this craft and how it evolved in history. Words became exciting to someone like me who is visually driven. Designing copy that makes people want to read is work of great design. This is something that I want to do!

Writing things down became lists, mind maps, notes, journaling, doodling, sketching and designing. Writing down my ideas became a significant stage of my design process. We communicate and express with words and language. To further design a message purposefully from those ideas brought meaning to everything - not only to how I write but to what I write about.


Write What You Mean

Looking back, writing notes in class and in my planner helped me focus and organize my time and work better. I still find it so gratifying crossing off completed tasks, that I make lists almost daily. Writing down a list is my visual aid to what I need and want to do. It is incredible how a couple of written steps on a piece of paper can become a master plan to your life.

There is meaning in something hand-written. Even as a graphic designer, there is a trend of hand-written and crafted typography and design because there can be so much style and personality woven into the design. A handwritten card or letter is either something from the past or an homage to this skill in an age of texting and typing. I understand how reading and receiving information - through a blog or an app - can begin to visually feel cold and overwhelming. Yet alluring typography paired with great content is an online sweet spot.

As a graphic designer, I style content better when I understand the purpose and message of the content. During my Writing for the Web class, I was glad to learn the language on the web was straight-forward and concise. It went against everything I learned in high school, which prizes complex ideas explained with lofty language and 800 words. When the aim is impactful language in 120 characters, suddenly, what you write has to mean something, catch someone’s attention or compel them enough to take action whether it be buy, shop or like.

In this perspective, writing became design to me. The copy became an extension to the overall design. I no longer wanted to make copy to look good, I want to showcase the message that is not only visually pleasing but also contextually pleasing. I can not say that I am an expert copywriter, rather, I am more aware of the content then I was before. I have changed so much, that I seldom like to use filler text or lorem ipsum, because what I design strongly influences how I design.


Open Conversation

This resurgence of writing came during my graphic and web design studies. I started my blog to develop my writing skills, share a little more about myself and personally document my journey. There are so many changes in life, different seasons and altering events. It can have you talking on the phone for hours or leave you silent. Writing is a way to capture these moments, like a photograph. But describing a moment is like storytelling and commentating opens up the conversation. ■

Patricia Atienza