What is Graphic Design?


Motion graphics, editorial design, branding, experience design, typography, etc. This list is just a few possibilities of graphic design. As students studying design, we have experienced or have seen other students experience uncertainty in their graphic design career path.

There are so many different types of design fields open for graphic designers, but there are too many choices. And sometimes too many choices confuse our decisions.

In our conversations, we all had different interpretations, process, understanding, and meaning of graphic design. We focused on defining and exploring our undefined path of graphic design by translating them into posters, imagery, and video.

Yi: Graphic design’s greatest strengths and flaws both lie within the fluidity and freedom it offers. The major has a reputation as one of the more “professional” of the fine art degrees, but even still, many students such as my group and myself find we are often lost as to what to do next. Through our discussions, we have narrowed down the issue to that of graphic design’s freedom to interpret, create, and materialize our own unique voices. Unlike a more rigid degree in the stem fields, skill in design cannot be easily quantified due to the individuality of its process, nor can it be forced into a rigid one-size-fits-all path. As such, our group embraced the freedom and confusion design offers in our project, though a video that showcases our differing and clashing design styles that we nonetheless try to gather into a coherent voice.

My process started from making designs solely in blue, as our group beforehand had decided to split the three Riso-graph colors we had been assigned separately to each member. However, after only half-a-dozen or so mockups, I found that this was too limiting to work with and reverted to using all three. I tried to make my iterations relatively visual, creating simple shapes such as triangles, stairs, and cubes. From there, used these to create fast sketch-like compositions until I found variations I liked. From these compositions, I then created around six posters which I would use as parts for my section of the video. As I was the third person in line for the video, I worked on making sure that my additions did not cover too much existing content, utilizing numerous transitions to meld my work to certain scenes.

Anni: Being a graphic design student does have a lot of opportunities to establish their own career. We can not deny that studying graphic design is easy to get a job compared to studying other fine art majors. I made some initial posters based on my personal feeling. I feel directionless and depicts studying graphic design as a one-way trip. Directionless and possibilities are our keywords. We always want to explore more, but at the same time, the focus is a blur. There are a lot of questions that we could not answer. We have a lot of pressure. Based on that idea, I want to create something relaxable. I take tourism in the world of graphic design. I try to jump out of the inside view and try to be an outside person to see the problem. When we reorganize our elements, it leads the audience to enter our inner world through the screen. This video is the visual integration of our mind and oscillates between now and the future.

EK: My iterations/ posters were mostly based on the 25 questions I came up with after getting assigned to our project. After going through the assigned readings, it really made me think twice on how even though graphic design is the most professional out of the art field, it’s still not really defined or considered as a profession to many people. Thus, our career path makes it so hard for us to stay motivated and stick with one direction like students from pre-med who know exactly what they have to do to reach their goals. Some of the questions I had were ‘how do you set the value of graphic design’ ‘is a graphic design known as a profession’, and ‘is it hard to become employed as a graphic designer’. I simply started by creating sets of iterations that came to mind based on those questions I had and based on the things that usually come to mind when I’m designing. Because I like to do illustrations, I incorporated really quick drawings and blended them in with typography. For the video, I mostly worked with premiere pro. I displayed the strongest iterations in the video, but I also incorporated some small pieces from my iterations and layered them on top of Yi, Lucy, and Anni’s work.

Lucy: In this project, I wanted to focus on combining how “I” interpret graphic design along with my group members. When I first read The Graphic Design Reader, I was a bit more lost about the meaning of graphic design and the questions I had about graphic design got stronger and more undefined. However, at the same time, I figured that we are inclined to label designs in certain ways. We technically don’t have to define graphic design or confine the word or this career in certain ways; therefore, I incorporated barcodes to represent my tendency to label designs and categorize graphic design. Initially, I had ideas about making my iterations into puzzle pieces and forming the designs together along with my group members’ works. After some feedback, I decided to take out the puzzle element and incorporate my members’ designs as puzzle pieces. I wanted my design and iterations to act as a base of our journey of defining graphic design in our own ways.

I also created an intro and ending for our video to connect our videos together and to highlight our explorations in such an undefined path.

Anni, EK, Yi, and I all were all in different locations with different time zones; therefore, the entire project was executed and compiled together virtually. Since we were in different time zones, it was difficult for us to communicate with each other and compile a video together, but we figured we constantly kept each other updated by sending each other our iterations and videos. The entire process of building this video allowed us to find alternative ways of working with other designers and understand how to connect each other’s unique interpretations of graphic design.



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