Graphic Design – So what is it?

According to Wikipedia graphic design is “the art, profession and academic discipline whose activity consists in projecting visual communications”. So what does that mean?

Almost everything that you see in print or indeed anything on the internet would come under the umbrella of graphic design. Wether produced by a professional or somebody messing around with a Word document. It’s not just confined to adverts, sales material, logos etc but any visual communication. The better the graphic designer the better any given message should be put across.

Whilst just about anybody can produce a leaflet in Word or even build their own website with Wix or similar, to get a design that works to the best advantage would require a graphic designer.

Let’s take a look at a few of the elements a graphic designer should be aware of.

Typography – the art of using fonts.

A professional graphic designer should have a good idea of the use of fonts and typography, to be able to get a good visual balance that’s pleasing to the eye and keeps the readers attention until the message has been read.

Using something nice and easy to show this, let’s take a look at a “No Parking” sign.

Graphic design the use of typography good and bad
The use of font styles to get a message across: First example showing use of the wrong font – difficult to read and too informal for a warning message. Note also the poor use of two different script fonts. The second image showing incorrect emphasis when the message is “no parking”. The third showing correct type of font and emphasis and finally the use of a graphic symbol to reinforce the message.

Just because you like a font, it doesn’t mean you should use it. Think about the message you’re trying to get across. Make sure that you limit the number of fonts you use and make sure they work together. Use tracking and kerning to make text more readable and make sure there is enough contrast between the text and background.

Balance – using text, shapes and images

It might sound easy, but it’s amazing how difficult it can be to make something clear and visually appealing to the reader.

Graphic design good and bad balance
Left – balance with symmetry, middle – asymmetrical balance and on the right – how not to do it.

Contrast: colour on colour, textured backgrounds

Graphic design bad contrast examplesWhilst using a background can look great, think about how easy it will be to read the text. I hate to say it but if you like either of these two designs and would be happy to use them for your business card, you really do need to talk to a graphic designer!

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Or take a look at more hints and tips:

Graphic Design – So what is it?

File Types – Know the difference between jpg and eps and when to use them.

Artwork Basics – RGB vs CMYK, bleed and trims.

Typography – The forgotten art? Kerning and quotations

Magazine Design Basics – Design tips for producing a magazine, leaflet or brochure.

The Eyes Have It – Leading the eye in graphic design