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What Is Graphic Design? Defining Visual Communication and What Graphic Designers Do

Definition of Graphic Design

Graphic design is a form of communication that conveys a specific message to specific audiences through the means of words and type, images and other graphic elements and layout. Graphic design is a mixture of art and business. Taking an artistic vision and applying it practically within a world of planning, client needs, budgets and materials. All graphic design employs the theories of art, but its main purpose is to be useful and functional.

What a Graphic Designer Does

A graphic designer, or graphic artist, effectively disseminates information in an attractive way that is easy for the audience to understand and has 2 linked goals: communicating a message to an audience and creating designs that have an impact.

The graphic designer is the liaison between the client, who wants to communicate an idea, and the audience, who may or may not be willing to receive it. Graphic designers through their visual work inform, sell or persuade audiences on behalf of their clients.

The Process of Creating Graphic Art

All graphic design begins with a message. First, the graphic designer and the client must discuss what the message is and the best way to communicate that message to the targeted audience. Depending on the medium involved (video, web, print, TV, etc.) the graphic designer will employ different design skills to help the client’s message stand out.

The artistic side of graphic design is only one aspect of the designer’s job. Depending on the size of the business or client the designer works for, they may be in charge of the project’s budget, editing and/or creating the text that goes with the design, photographing or drawing graphic elements or directly corresponding with the print shop and printer for the project.

Obstacles Graphic Designers Deal With

All graphic design has limitations and graphic designers learn how to overcome them before beginning a project. There are three limitations every graphic designer must learn to work around:

  • Financial
  • Physical
  • Psychological

For example, a financial limitation may be that the project must be in black and white. Taking out the use of color can sometimes make it more difficult to create an eye-popping design, but it is possible.

A physical limitation is the medium the work will be viewed on, such as a poster, business card or brochure. The amount of information that can be displayed on a business card is less than on a poster.

The psychological limitations a graphic designer faces deal with how the audience will view the graphic designer’s work. Different design elements will be employed if the work is on a billboard and is meant to be viewed from a car than if the work is on a magazine cover and meant to be viewed from a magazine rack at the grocery store.

Introduction to Graphic Design

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