A new leaf at Apple

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Many of us in the visual arts learned digital design on an Apple product. Maybe it was using a strange, new device called a mouse to select a font from a pull-down menu on a black-and-white Macintosh. Maybe it was tweaking the contrast of photos we’d scanned into a pizza-box PowerMac. Maybe it was getting our first taste of timeline editing when we fired up Final Cut Pro.

Today, Apple’s impact is strong. There’s a good chance you’re reading this on an Apple product. Or maybe you’re working on a design for customers to view on an iPhone or an iPad. Any way you look at it, Apple has profoundly influenced the graphic design community, both through its products and its approach to branding and industrial design.

After the announcement that Steve Jobs is resigning as Apple’s CEO, a new chapter begins. Jobs has been the face of Apple during its best years, and many Apple fans regard him as a visionary. Jobs and his team have introduced a series of hit products, made Apple one of the world’s richest companies, and set new standards for how humans interact with machines.

Even without Jobs at the helm, Apple will probably continue to roll out seductive new gizmos that cost us our paychecks. And to put it in perspective, Jobs is just one man, and a computer is still just a box of switches. But for those of us of a certain age who grew up with Apple products, it’s a poignant moment. Steve Jobs built computers, but he also realigned our expectations about technology, and the products we buy. He set high standards with design, bucked the mainstream, and poured emotion into his work in a quest for greatness. That’s a good example for any designer.

But the real reason so many people feel a bond with this brand is that we admire it for the spirit of creativity that Steve Jobs represents. And we can’t help but to hope for a future where there are many more “Apples” in the world: innovative, disruptive, design-centered companies who refuse to accept anything less than extraordinary.

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