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Defining Graphic Design

Often I read Wikipedia graphic design articles. Most articles lack basic information on the topics we all use every day in our profession. The web is big enough that some of the missing information can be found pretty quickly just by a Google search. I don’t think that many of us in the profession would turn there for these definitions. We find more focused sites about design that are secluded from the public. Anyway, it’s not so great to see the weak points in Wikipedia as a resource and not great that it’s where we graphic designers sit.

It’s not really a complete encyclopedia, so it’s probably a mistake that they’ve defined themselves that way. Wikipedia collects projects and its graphic design project remains underdeveloped. The wiki concept seems to work great on the small scale. Take a look at the Battlestar Wiki for example.

I gave it a shot and dove in and did a small restructuring of the graphic design article. Like many graphic designers, I’d rather focus on my own projects than edit over there but I did my part. So here we are back on my site… Like I said, it’s as easy as a Google search, but lets make it just a little easier. I’ve compiled a few resources and articles that give a nice overview of graphic design for further reading. What else should we see when we’re giving an overview of graphic design past and present.

The Design from a German stamp.
The Design from a German stamp. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Definitions

What is graphic design from Design Talkboard. Here’s five definitions of graphic design to start with.

What is graphic Design? from Veerle’s Blog. Commenters from around the web weigh in to create their own definitions of graphic design.

Trying to explain graphic design to a hall full of ten year olds from Johnson Banks, a London design consultant agency. Michael Johnson talks about his experience with kids and design.

History

A Brief History of Type by Thomas W. Phinney. Type is summed up through four major eras: Gutenberg, the Industrial Revolution, Photocomposition and the Digital era.

A Historical Timeline of Computer Graphics and Animation by Wayne E. Carlson.

THe History of Graphic Design and Its Audiences from the AIGA. Michael J. Golec talks about the lack of educational programs that focus on graphic design history. Most education in the field is career or studio driven.

History of Graphic Design by Nancy Stock-Allen. This is an educational site produced to help in lectures, but it’s very visually compelling and touches upon more points than I’ve seen on other sites I’ve looked at.

XIXth century advertising poster for the hydrotherapic baths of Bagnoles de l'Orne (France).
XIXth century advertising poster for the hydrotherapic baths of Bagnoles de l’Orne (France). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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What your daily newspaper can teach you about design

While everyone feels the newspaper industry is dying, we can still learn a lot from the way they are designed. Part of my duties as a designer was once layout out several newspapers. I've learned a lot that has helped me with other projects ever since I've started on that. So maybe these tips will help you just a bit. Newspapers love bold headlines A lot of "bad" designs are cluttered. There's too much going on. There isn't any emphasis or too many things appear emphasized. The idea of a headline, subhead, and body copy can extend to many forms ... Read more

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Publications Vocabulary You Might Not Know

Working in publishing, it feels there are always new terms to learn every day. Here are some terms used for magazines, newspapers, books and other publications with definitions that are a bit more obscure to those outside of the business. There's a few about newspaper sizes which have a large effect on perception by its audiences and each format has unique design challenges. Barn door cover Also known as a split front cover, the barn door cover opens up with two flaps meeting at the center of a magazine cover with advertising on the inside. Bellyband A bellyband is a ... Read more

Uncanny Creativity is a podcast and blog with advice, tips and ideas about the creative process. Do you have a question our community can help answer? Record your audio or written question via this contact form. Email b@uncannycreativity.com, write on Twitter @uncannycreative, or on our Facebook page.

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Brian E. Young

I'm a graphic designer (portfolio), classical pianist and artist in Baltimore, MD. I host the Uncanny Creativity Podcast helping to demystify the creative process and creator of Funlooksfun.com, an online shop for apparel and games. Twitter: @sketchee

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