This post is sort of born out of a brief conversation I had today with my best friend and fellow designer, David. He texted me inquiring as to where my mind went when I heard or saw the word ‘aesthetic.’

My initial response to this is ‘look and feel.’ I think of brand aesthetics – design aesthetics. I refer to paintings and arrangements as ‘aesthetically pleasing.’ So I guess, being that I’m some excuse for a visual communicator, when I see the word or hear its use, I immediately think in terms of the visual. A visual aesthetic or a tangible one. But the tangible ‘touch and feel’ reaction is definitely tied to visuals in terms of die cuts, embossing, varnishes, etc. But then, after I’m sure was one of my trademark long-winded responses, he mentioned that someone he knows thinks of aesthetics in terms of music. It opens an intriguing mind door, I suppose. Would you say that something is audibly aesthetic? Sonically so? It’s rather fascinating.

Now the dictionary (or Dictionary.com, if you want to call that the dictionary) defines aesthetic in the noun usage as:

  • 1. plural but sing or plural in constr : a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art,
    and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty
  • 2. a particular theory or conception of beauty or art : a particular taste for or approach to what is pleasing
    to the senses and especially sight <modernist aesthetics><staging new ballets which reflected the aesthetic
    of the new nation — Mary Clarke & Clement Crisp>
  • 3. plural : a pleasing appearance or effect : beauty<appreciated the aesthetics of the gemstones>
 There is also an adjective usage.

I guess it’s fun to think about our backgrounds – where we’ve come from. All that learning and training. Perhaps even our day-to-day mechanics. And how it all affects our views. We are all certainly the products of who we’ve been and the choices we’ve made. The circumstances that have befallen us and the ambitions that have driven us. All of that gives us vision. But it’s particular. Specific even.

We see things in ways that others don’t or can’t. And, to me at least, I’m intrigued when another perspective is added to the mix that’s so very different from my own interpretations. I like to listen – to observe. I become a sponge and absorb these other angles of thinking in hopes of expanding my own views. It won’t just make me a better artist and designer. It’ll make me a more insightful human being and a far wiser one.