Quick Reads

The Mighty Pencil

Yvonne Hsu

Graphic Designer & Illustrator, étude Digital

In this day and age, humans are becoming more and more reliant on artificial intelligence and less on their innate creativity, to the point that even the simplest of tasks, like mass replying emails, can easily be done on a click of a button.

Quantity vs Quality

Sadly, this has become a common trend within the creative industry. The ease of accessing free, paid, and computer-generated design templates and artworks has allowed many people to copy, steal, or proclaim themselves as professional designers. It makes people believe that creative services can simply be done cheaply or that they see no reason to pay more for work that may be available online. However, that’s where all the ‘too good to be true’ gimmick ends for both AI and creative imposters.

Original and successful designs require brainstorming. The human mind’s complexity allows us to produce brief specific outcomes that go beyond generic aesthetics found online. No matter how visually pleasing the work may be, if it has no depth and doesn’t serve a purpose, it’ll eventually be forgotten because there’s no backbone to tie the design together.

The car is faster than the bicycle, but cars have not made bicycles obsolete, and no new technological improvement can make a bicycle better than it was before.

Umberto Eco, an Italian philosopher, semiotician, political and social commentator, believes many timeless inventions will never be replaced with new technology. In his well-received 1996 lecture “From Internet to Gutenberg”, he quotes, “The car is faster than the bicycle, but cars have not made bicycles obsolete, and no new technological improvement can make a bicycle better than it was before. The idea that a new technology abolishes a previous role is much too simplistic.” This is why many true designers will always begin their journey with the mighty pencil.

We’re often fixated on perfection when working digitally, with very little room to experience trial and error. By pencilling down ideas, it allows our brain to draft out initial concepts that may lead to new discoveries. It gives us room to progress, learn from our mistakes and to challenge our status quo. Even if the designer doesn’t possess exceptional drawing skills, sketching out ideas ultimately yields more possibilities in less time, providing a better overall understanding of the concept when it reaches the digital stage.

Whilst it’s important for modern-day designers to stay up to date with the latest digital software, the pencil will always be the universal tool that will never die with age. It is widely accessible, reliable and most of all, it doesn’t dictate you to current industry standards because you will always be in charge in what may potentially be the next big breakthrough.


Yvonne Hsu

Graphic Designer & Illustrator

The wizard who turns our dreams into technicolour reality.
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