Inspiration and Ideation: Drawing in a Digital Age

Pamela Schenk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Once largely dependent on the drawing abilities of designers, the design process has been almost totally transformed by the use of digital media, including systems that might be seen to replace the need for drawing ability. However, the recent investigation described in this paper has confirmed that traditional, paper-based forms of drawing are still employed by many designers, and are particularly crucial as an aid to creative thinking. Conducted as a final phase in a long-term study of the role of drawing in design, the main aim of the present investigation was to determine to what extent the use of drawing, which typified designerly practice when the long-term study began, is still evident today. Presented in the form of a taxonomic table, historical and contemporary drawing practice is characterised in this paper in the considerable detail only made possible by the extensive research programme consistently conducted by the author over a thirty year period. Research throughout the long-term study included interviews, the extensive observation of studio practice and the in-depth analysis of designer’s drawings. Based on recent accounts of their use of drawing by over 40 senior textile and visual communication designers, and compared with accounts of well over a hundred designers interviewed in earlier years of the long-term study, it is evident that designers not only still rely on quick, informal sketching to stimulate new ideas, but they also still believe that the visual literacy and visual memory that inspires these ideas is developed by an early and continuing use of drawing. It is also apparent that they believe that an adaptable use of drawing and the acquisition of drawing ability is still important, and many have concerns that the creativity of young designers will be impaired if they are not encouraged to learn to draw.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-55
Number of pages14
JournalDesign Issues
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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