What is Graphic Design?


The term “graphic design” was first used in 1992 by William Addison Dwiggins, an American calligrapher, book designer and type designer. His essay, “New Kind of Printing Calls for New Design” was a special supplement of the “Boston Evening Transcript”. Although the term in relatively new, the history of graphic design goes back to the 15th century when a book design made by Aldus Manutius became the cornerstone of western publication design.

But what is graphic design nowadays? In the 21st century, graphic design is an interdisciplinary art focused on visual communication. Applied in the areas of communication, technology and business, it blends images and words into a product fitted for a targeted market. The process involves a designer and a client that requests a certain visual product that is representative for a message or idea.

The graphic designer or graphic artist uses photographs, drawn or painted images and computer-generated images to create different types of media materials. Most of the time they use graphic software like Adobe Photosop, Adobe Ilustrator, Indesign, etc. to modify shapes, color, texture so that they communicate a specific message. The graphic design process requires technical expertise, an innovative idea and a creative mind. It is a problem-solving process, because the designer has to understand the needs of the client , the target audience, their competitors and provide with the best solution.

What is graphic design good for? If you want to sell a product, announce an event, explain and demonstrate a process you need a mean to send your message to the public. You can use verbal communication like radio, but if you choose a visual form, graphic design is essential. Part of our daily life, we can encounter graphic design on simple things like restaurant menus, T-shirts, credit cards, bubble gum wrappers, skateboards, magazines, books and every informative surface. And if you still need to ask what is graphic design good for, think about business logos, posters, ads and album covers that use graphic design to create a more attractive appearance for the audience.

There are different types of graphic design that combine art an technology. The image-based design uses images without words (or just a few) to carry messages that people respond to. Images are a powerful form of communication that can induce certain positive or negative emotions. The type-based design relies only on words to make an impact. The size, positioning and font are essential with this type of graphic design. Often the two styles blend for a more clear and successful communication with the audience. Logos and symbols are a more condensed form of graphic design that represent the identity of a company or a concept.