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Graphic design is a form of communication in which visual information is used to convey a message. Unlike fine art, it is normally used for commercial purposes, to convey a specific and persuasive message to a large audience. Graphic design often incorporates typography, page layout, image development, and branding, but it is not limited to these elements.
Like many forms of communication, graphic design often refers to both the process by which the communication is created, and the final form that it takes. For example:
- Print Design – magazine and newspaper layout, posters, corporate logo/letterhead/business card design, book and album cover design, package/label design.
- Interactive/Motion Design – web page layout, web animation, film/video title design, software interface design.
As a process, graphic design is complex and multi-faceted.
Principles and elements of design
Design elements are the basic tools in every design discipline. They can be divided into three kinds: conceptual, perceptual and relational. Each of these kinds of elements defines the approach by which those elements are classified.
Conceptual classification include point, line, plane and volume. As for perceptual classification, there are color, size, contour and texture. On a relational classification, elements vary according to intervention, modulation and arrangement.
Graphic design theory
Template:Unreferenced According to the classic theory of design (or "graphic design"), visual design, art, and the visual excitement of a work of design are a result of how the composition of the design elements creates mood, style, message, and a look.
Research and planning needed for most design work include:
- the design process, which encompasses the step-by-step and often complex path that a designer takes toward a design solution through research, exploration, re-evaluation, and revision of a design problem. This process starts with the client and ends with the finished design product.
- use of a grid to help improve or speed up the layout of images and text. Like the steel internal frame of building, the grid helps the 2D designer place information on paper or screen in a way that improves the design visually and its usability.
- impact and use of technology for design solutions. Graphic designers are usually first to adopt and incorporate new technology in solutions or concepts when possible. This experimentation is not always to the benefit of the design or the user.
The classic theory of design continues to be the first one introduced to starting students and amateurs, with details such as the number of principles varying from book to book and instructor to instructor. However, the classic theory of design is limited in scope as it only considers the decorative aspects of design. More comprehensive theories and treatments include or emphasize aspects of visual communication and usability, sometimes referring to sociology and linguistics.
Graphic design history
The paintings in the caves of Lascaux around 14,000 BC and the birth of written language in the third or fourth millennium BC are both significant milestones in the history of graphic design and other fields which hold roots to graphic design.
The Book of Kells is a very beautiful and very early example of graphic design in a form that would be acceptable even today. The book is a lavishly illustrated hand-written copy of the Christian Bible created by Celtic monks in the ninth century AD.
Johann Gutenberg's introduction of movable type in Europe made books widely available. The earliest books were produced by Gutenberg's press and others of the era (the Incunabula). Only through the design of Aldus Manutius did the book begin to have a structure that would became the benchmark by which the design of future books, even as late as the 20th century, would be judged. Graphic design of this era is called either "Old Style" (especially the typefaces which these early typographers used), or "Humanist", after the predominant philosophical school of the time.
Graphic design, after Gutenberg saw a gradual evolution rather than any significant change, in the late 19th century when, especially in the United Kingdom, an effort was made to create a firm division between the fine arts and the applied arts.
From 1891 to 1896 William Morris' Kelmscott Press published some of the most significant of the graphic design products of the Arts and Crafts movement, and made a very lucrative business of creating books of great stylistic refinement and selling them to the wealthy for a premium. Morris proved that a market existed for works of graphic design and helped pioneer the separation of design from production and from fine art. The work of the Kelmscott Press is characterized by its decadence and by its obsession with historical styles. This historicism was, however, important as it amounted to the first significant reaction to the stale state of nineteenth-century graphic design. Morris' work, along with the rest of the Private Press movement, directly influenced Art Nouveau and is indirectly responsible for developments in early twentieth century graphic design in general.
The work of painter Piet Mondrian, born in 1872, was influential in modern graphic design. Although he was not a graphic designer his use of grids inspired the basic structure of the modern advertising layout known also as the grid system, used commonly today by graphic designers.
Modern design of the early 20th century, much like the fine art of the same period, was a reaction against the decadence of typography and design of the late 19th century. The hallmark of early modern typography is the sans-serif typeface. Early Modern, not to be confused with the modern era of the 18th and 19th centuries, typographers such as Edward Johnston and Eric Gill after him were inspired by vernacular and industrial typography of the latter nineteenth century. The signage in the London Underground is a classic of this era and used a font designed by Edward Johnston in 1916.
In the 1920s, Soviet Constructivism (art) applied 'intellectual production' in different spheres of production. The movement saw individualistic art as useless in revolutionary Russia and thus moved towards creating objects for utilitary purposes. They designed buildings, theater sets, posters, fabrics, clothing, furniture, logos, menus etc.
The term "graphic design" was coined by U.S. book designer and type designer William Addison Dwiggins in 1922.
Jan Tschichold codified the principles of modern typography in his 1928 book, New Typography. He later repudiated the philosophy he espoused in this book as being fascistic, but it remained very influential. Tschichold, Bauhaus typographers such as Herbert Bayer and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and El Lissitzky are the fathers of graphic design as we know it today. They pioneered production techniques and stylistic devices used throughout the twentieth century. Although the computer has altered production forever, the experimental approach to design they pioneered has become more relevant than ever.
The following years saw graphic design in the modern style gain widespread acceptance and application. A booming post-World War II American economy established a greater need for graphic design, mainly advertising and packaging. The emigration of the German Bauhaus school of design to Chicago in 1937 brought a "mass-produced" minimalism to America; sparking a wild fire of "modern" architecture and design. Notable names in mid-century modern design include Adrian Frutiger, designer of the typefaces Univers and Frutiger; Paul Rand, who, from the late 1930's until his death in 1996, took the principles of the Bauhaus and applied them to popular advertising and logo design, helping to create a uniquely American approach to European minimalism while becoming one of the principal pioneers of the subset of graphic design known as corporate identity; and Josef Müller-Brockmann, who designed posters in a severe yet accessible manner typical of the 1950s and 1960s.
The reaction to the increasing severity of graphic design was slow but inexorable. The origins of postmodern typography can be traced back as far as the humanist movement of the 1950s. Notable among this group is Hermann Zapf who designed two typefaces that remain ubiquitous — Palatino (1948) and Optima (1952). By blurring the line between serif and sans-serif typefaces and re-introducing organic lines into typography these designs did more to ratify modernism than they did to rebel.
An important point was reached in graphic design with the publishing of the First things first 1964 Manifesto which was a call to a more radical form of graphic design and criticized the ideas of value-free design. This was massively influential on a generation of new graphic designers and contributed to the founding of publications such as Emigre magazine.
Saul Bass designed many motion picture title sequences which feature new and innovative methods of production and startling graphic design to attempt to tell some of the story in the first few minutes. He may be best known his work for Otto Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm (1955).
David Carson has gone against the restrictiveness of modern designs. Some of his designs for Raygun magazine are intentionally illegible, featuring typography designed to be visual rather than literary experiences.
Use of computers
In the mid 1980s, the arrival of desktop publishing and the introduction of software applications such as Adobe Illustrator and Aldus Pagemaker introduced a generation of designers to computer image manipulation and 3D image creation that had previously been unachievable. Computer graphic design enabled designers to instantly see the effects of layout or typography changes without using any ink in the process.
Early on April Greiman recognized the vast potential of this new medium and quickly established herself as a pioneer of digital design. She was first known for her 1986 layout in the magazine Design Quarterly.
Common graphic design software applications include Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, QuarkXPress, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Macromedia Fireworks and Macromedia Flash (Macromedia products being currently property of Adobe).
Computers are now considered to be an indispensable tool used in the graphic design industry, and they are generally in the industry seen as more effective than the traditional methods. However, a few designers continue to use manual and traditional tools, such as Milton Glaser.
- graphics, raster graphics and vector graphics
- information graphics
- style guide
- visualization (graphic)
- Wang, Wuxie, (Wucius Wong), "Principles of design".