Design for the Stage: First Steps

By Darwin Reid Payne | Go to book overview
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printing visual subject matter that would not have had a market before this period. Pictorial records of private and public buildings, detailed studies of architecture, furniture, etc., are being brought to the general public in a diversity unparalleled in printing history. One of the most helpful developments, especially to the scenic designer seeking a more comprehensive understanding of not only a period or a style but the social and economic reasons behind them, is the fairly recent emergence of a number of books that deal with a relatively brief period but present the various activities of the period in visual terms and in great depth. These books "show" history rather than just describe it in words; they not only trace political history but also take into consideration the social trends and demonstrate how, in any one age, different countries reacted to and produced variations on prevalent styles. Many of these books, it must be admitted, are expensive, but the designer should consider them extremely wise investments. And while the acquisition of books, even the lower priced ones, will always be an expense, the practice of buying them on a regular basis somehow seems the easiest and least expensive way to acquire a library. (Any book the designer buys to use in his work is, by the way, tax deductible, as are his art materials.) A personal library is, and I think there are few designers who will not corroborate this, a positive means by which the artist continues to grow in his profession.

§15 A Filing System for the Scene Designer

Another source of visual materials (and an extremely important one) is the collection of loose materials--single photographs, clippings from magazines, brochures, etc. Most designers, in addition to their libraries, also maintain extensive file collections. These files are as important to a designer's efficient operation and productivity as is the dictionary or encyclopedia to a research scholar. But the designer cannot purchase this system ready-assembled as he might a set of books; he must, rather, build it up slowly and over a long period of time. Many designers have collections accumulated over many years. No designer is capable of storing in his mind all the images, bits of visual information, sources of supply, all those innumerable items which he needs in his day-to-day operation. Much of this material has a short-lived general exposure, in magazines and newspapers for example, which makes it imperative that the designer keep his eye open and his scissors handy at all times. A file system, therefore, is the only effective method of


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