Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video What is graphic design?, part of Introduction to Graphic Design (2016).
- [Voiceover] This entire course is all about learning graphic design, and becoming a graphic designer. But in order to do that, I think it's important for you to know a little bit about the art form before you actually start practicing it. Don't you? So, what exactly is graphic design anyway? Well, the technical definition of graphic design states that it is the art of visual communication through the use of text, images, symbols, and artwork. Well, we're gonna distill that down just a little bit into three main skill areas, which we'll cover throughout the course. The first up is Visual Arts, which includes things like photography and illustration.
Also, Typography, which is the art or process of setting, arranging, and designing type. And Page Layout, which refers to the arrangement of visual elements on a printed page. All three of these skills have been used for thousands of years. In fact, graphic design dates back probably a little further than you might think. The first use of visual communication to convey ideas was done through cave paintings as far back as 15,000 BC. While they didn't actually call it graphic design back then, it still had the same idea.
You had pictograms, symbols, and ancient writing styles. They were all combined to tell stories and deliver messages that we're still captivated by today. Fast forward to 105 AD, where a Chinese political official named Ts'Ai Lun invented the first iteration of paper, which led to the earliest forms of printing, making it much easier to produce artwork and written compositions. The next major milestone for the world of graphic design came from Johannes Gutenber in 1450's AD. Gutenberg is credited with inventing the movable type press, which eliminated the need for handwritten reproduction of books, and ushered in a new era of printed books and manuscripts.
Design continued to evolve over the next several centuries, but in the early 1920's, the actual term graphic designer was coined by calligrapher and illustrator William Addison Dwiggins, who's essays on graphic arts truly helped shape the modern era of design as we know it today. In 1969, engineer Douglas Engelbart invested a small piece of equipment known as a mouse, which would set the stage for one of the biggest leaps forward in graphic design history. That leap would come in 1984, when Apple invented a small machine known as the Macintosh, which would change the way creators worked from then on out.
And it ushered in the modern computer based graphic design era. Over the next several decades, design would evolve tremendously. And as technology became more accessible, so grew the amount of people who were interested in this new form of art. That led us to where we are today, surrounded by advertisements, posters, packaging designs, and iconic symbols which evoke emotion, spark recognition, and drive our purchasing desires on a daily basis. To truly be a graphic designer, you must be a good communicator, capable of taking ordinary words and images and translating them into messages that are as accessible as they are meaningful and inviting.
The goal of every designer should be to bring order and clarity to the visual representation of information, and make that information easier for the viewer to understand. However, it's not just the principles that make you a good designer. As technology continues to evolve, so must you as a graphic designer. It's imperative that you stay atop trends, learn new technologies, and adapt as your clients need you to do so. Designers who don't evolve won't make it. It's that simple. So exactly what is graphic design? Ultimately, it's whatever you want it to be.
That's the beauty of it. Everyone has their own unique interpretation of what it is, and how it's supposed to be.
Note: These tutorials were revised in 2016 to make sure they are current with the latest version of Adobe Creative Cloud. Mini Bridge was retired this year, so Justin uses alternate methods to open and organize assets.
- Understanding the impact of color
- Sketching your ideas
- Removing unwanted objects from images
- Cropping and editing photos in Photoshop
- Resizing and saving images for print
- Drawing basic shapes in Illustrator
- Creating a custom color theme with swatches
- Setting type
- Building wireframes
- Creating tables in InDesign
- Preflighting documents
- Packaging files for print