Graphic Design, more than art

By 10 February 2014 

As a creative person, I like to draw and create beautiful things.  When I became a graphic designer I realized there was more to design than beauty, there needs to be a message shown through form and function.

When a designer is creating a logo or branding for a client, it is not a simple case of drawing a picture or using a nice looking font.  Research needs to be done on the client and their business to find out crucial information about what the message needs to be

Colour, style of font and size, just to name a few elements, can change the meaning that the design is meant to convey.  If, for example, the Graphic designer uses a non-organic colour for an organic style business, the viewer may perceive the wrong message and this may impact on the growth or sustainability of the business.

Graphic design can be viewed in the same way that an engineer may design for a building construction.  The engineer knows that for a building to stand strong he must first know the purpose and requirements of the structure.  From here he/she will look at height, shape and form to decide the base structure and support system needed. Then they will look at the materials that can be used and if they will be appropriate for the building.

Graphic design can be seen in the same way.  The wrong use of elements within a design will not support the message and the finished product will fall and destroy or impair the business.

Mondrian was able to show this through one of his most recognised pieces, Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow. The use of the three primary colours and black lines of different weights and directions were able to show not only form and function but give the message of construction, plus a feel of space both within and outside the building. The viewer may think that they are looking at the side of a high-rise building and are able to see into individual apartments that have coloured lights on.  One might think that the heavier weighted lines may be the supports for the structure.  It is the interpretation of the viewer that gives meaning to the artwork. But Mondrian did not just throw this artwork together. He would have thought about the message colour would give and the impact that the use of lines would have on the piece. In his decision-making there would be a structure for the art in the same way there is a structure in designing a building.  It may be said that he took some of his ideas from the world of architecture as inspiration.

composition, colour, art, graphic design

Pier Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow, 1927

With graphic design the artwork needs to have a distinct message without interpretation.  Making the discipline of design essential to the design industry in the same way that engineering is essential to the construction of a building.

Logo, branding, graphic design

Official Nike logo

As an example consider the Nike Logo. The simplicity of a single swoosh gave the message of fast and fluid, a good marketing strategy to entice competitive sports men and women to achieve better performance.  The first black and red design was used to create a connection to the Chicago Bulls, but later incorporated the use of white, now making these three colours the official colours of Nike. Colour rather than words was used to convey meaning successfully without clouding the message and making the design easy to notice and recognise.

So when next you look at a logo or branded item, think about the message and decide if the right message has been conveyed through the design.  Take time to think of the business it is designed for and ask yourself what you would need to know to create the right design for that business. Try not to just see a beautiful image.

For now I hope that I have been able to inspire thinking and create a dialogue between designer and viewer.



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