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Defining Graphic Design

Often I read Wikipedia's articles about graphic design. Most of the articles aren't in great shape without basic information on the topics we all use every day in our profession. The web is big enough that any 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 anyway. 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 its probably a mistake that they've defined themselves that way. It's a collection of projects and its graphic design project is 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 assist 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 is layout out newspaper. 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 little 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 are emphasized. The idea of a headline, subhead and body copy can extend to many forms of design. Try keeping the body copy consistent in size and type style. The headline might even be in the same font. A headline is an opportunity to use a second font, but ask yourself why you think this is appropriate and be critical of the results. Photos and captions. Newspapers often have to deal with a variety of shapes of photos and fit them into various spaces. In the past few months that I've been doing a few days of newspaper layouts each week, the more I see that the layout is a puzzle. Everything has to fit just perfectly. It's more challenging than it may at first appear. On top of that, you don't want the captions don't want to get mixed in with the body copy. Using a rule, box or just enough white space can separate the caption text from body text Keeping photos near their headlines/copy is one tip. Another is to give a lot of space around them. This can work for all kinds of design objects in your layout. There's a lot more that you might learn from newspaper design. Look at some strongly branded and well thought out newspapers. Ask what works and what doesn't

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