I have been an artist since I was little. I remember drawing Transformers, tanks and characters out of Narnia in the second grade. I have always enjoyed drawing. Yet, I remember the afternoon in college when I met someone who was in the graphic design program. At the time, I wasn’t even an art major but to discover that I could have a career in art that wasn’t teaching or scraping by was an amazing moment. I set up an appointment with the Dean later that day and had declared my major as design by the end of the week.
What I began to learn over the course of the next few years, and still to this day, is how important communication is to design. Communication is what sets design apart from art. Message is what drives design. It is what is said or isn’t said that is important. How well it is presented separates it as good design.
As a designer, our task is to communicate. A well-designed piece should answer at least these two questions:
• Does it tell a story? Meaning does it deliver a message succinctly start to finish. Do the images and layout lead you through the piece? Do the colors, images and graphics tell the same story that the words do? Or does the branding convey the story through its use, placement, colors and type?
• Does it compel the viewer? To give, to change, to buy, to continue reading, to call, to act?
But a designer is a communicator beyond their designs. We need to communicate well with our peers, our co-workers and our clients. We should strive to not only be masters of the designed word, but the written and spoken word as well. Unfortunately, for some, we can’t be a recluse designer, like so many great artists. We have to understand our clients and employers needs and desires and that comes through conversation.
I often wonder if more than the minimum English class needs to be required of design majors. How would that change our industry and work?
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