What Is Graphic Design?

What Is Graphic Design?

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What is graphic design?

I came across this interesting video on YouTube, where AGDA (Australian Graphic Designer’s Association) asks the general public on the street (in Australia) various questions on graphic design.

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Their first question was: “What Is Graphic Design?

There were some very interesting responses in the video such as my favourite..

“Graphic design is a wank, a load of bullshit, wanky bullshit.”

However, there were some other quality responses that didn’t make me feel so bad, with some answers being quite sophisticated and some bordering on correct. I don’t even know if I, myself could accurately describe in full what graphic design is. What about you?

The second question they asked in the film was: “Do you know any graphic designers?

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No, was the response in pretty much all cases.
Favourite Response: I only know that graphic design is St Kilda. (A football club.)

3rd Question: “What does a graphic designer look like?

My favourite responses were:
They should be locked away.
“Hunched over, rings around the eyes, white.”

4th Question: “Any advice or tips for a graphic designer?”
My favourite responses were:
“Get more sun.”
“Keep it simple.”
“Get more modern.”
“Reduce Costs.”
“Do a survey.”
“Be Original.”
The most appropriate answer: “I wouldn’t know until I was a graphic designer, its like telling an airline pilot how to land a plane.”

They ended the video with each person wishing graphic designers good luck.

So, What is Graphic Design?

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Below is a compilation of short definitions of what AIGA and Wikipedia think graphic design is. For the full definition, follow the links.

Wikipedia: Graphic design is the process of communicating visually using typography and images to present information. Graphic design practice embraces a range of cognitive skills, aesthetics and crafts, including typography, visual arts and page layout. Like other forms of design, graphic design often refers to both the process (designing) by which the communication is created and the products (designs) which are generated.

AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Art) : Graphic design is a creative process that combines art and technology to communicate ideas. The designer works with a variety of communication tools in order to convey a message from a client to a particular audience. The main tools are image and typography.

Update: You should visit Veerle’s What is Graphic Design Blog Discussion as this was a very popular blog entry with hundreds of responses. It was so popular there was even a what is graphic design poster competition with hundreds of responses and great prizes.

What do you think graphic design is?

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15 thoughts on “What Is Graphic Design?”

  1. Ha, I’m sure that first guy only said that because he didn’t know and didn’t want to look stupid.

    Let’s see, Graphic design is… all around you. It is everything from the calendar on your wall to that annoying commercial on TV; it’s your email client and your company website; it’s your hand lotion bottle and the logo of your favorite clothing brand.

    Those definitions from Wikipedia and AIGA were good, too, even if a little technical. I don’t think the average person would understand those very well.

    P.S. I’m glad you have the subscribe to comments plugin 🙂 You have a very conversational style of writing and I’d be sad if we couldn’t carry on a dialog in the comments.

  2. @LaurenMarie
    Well, interestingly enough, the first guy went on a little tangent for about a minute and a half going on about how graphic designers are effecting our society.

    How I define it would be ‘communicating a purpose through type and graphics.’ (in a nutshell)

    I think I’ll be installing some more features for the comments plugin soon.

  3. Steve,
    That is an easy way of looking at what a designer does… to sum it up in one word I would say ‘communicate’.

    Thanks for your input into this discussion. Did you have a chance to look at the discussion on Veerle’s blog?


  4. A Graphic designer is basically a trade like you employ a joiner to hang a door or make you cupboards from scratch for your bedroom…

    …as you would employ a graphic designer to create you a logo or brand for your product that you wish to sell, they may also create you a leaflet, a company brochure that appeals to the public…

    when you buy a magazine even, you may choose the magazine because its your favourite magazine you always buy OR because its looks visually good by the way the designers has created the layout making the topics inside the magazine stand out and look interesting…

    with out a graphic designer what would a magazine, leaflet, logo etc look like, well it would be just like a word document, black arial text on white paper! if you think about it , it’s not rocket science as everyone seems to think!!


  5. p.s.
    graphic desingers are NOT w**k as the above post mentions, it can be a very well paid job…

    I fitted new windows and put new doors on my house but I’m not a joiner.
    I also changed the oil in my car and popped in some new spark plugs but I’m not actually a machanic…

    everyone has the ability to create there own business card or leaflet but doesnt make them graphic designers, if you create a flyer for your own business or go to a graphic designer to do it, have a look at the difference and they will come up with something totaly different that sells what you have or what you do, thats why we’re here otherwise wherre did the name come from?


  6. The first guy doesnt know much about graphic design

    Graphic designis +creative+ lernt from others+ flexibility.
    It soo much interesting

  7. Dear admin thanks for sharing such information .Your article is very useful. Graphic designis +creative+ lernt from others+ flexibility. It soo much interesting.

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