Graphic Design and Graphic Arts, The Graphical Expression of… Whose Message?
After looking at some of our makeover projects and a meeting I had in my design studio today, several concepts just keep lurking in my mind.
I remember some time ago I was a fairly big supporter of the fact that design is art, and posted a poll in the About Desktop Publishing forum. While I still think that, I view this in a different way now.
Art is often regarded as the expression of self. It has to comunicate something, and that communication will be very subjective to the beholder, but what you communicate as artist is your message, something that was created by your mind and you realise through artistic means. The means you use can be paintings, drawings, or any number of graphical arts that can include the use of graphics software.
That’s where people get confused. “Graphical Arts” are very different from “Graphic Design.” In Graphic Design you use the artistic tools to communicate a message, like you would do for art, but while you might achieve that through your ideas, you are not trying to convey your own personal message.
Being a designer means first and foremost being a communication counsellor. Your client wants to get somewhere and it’s your job to make sure he gets there the best way possible. Of course you have your own taste and your own style, but that cannot and must not compromise what the client wants to communicate. You are a problem solver, you are not an additional problem the client needs to deal with. I know this is a much colder view of design, but even with this view in mind, you are still able to use your creativity.
Sometimes your solution will not satisfy your client. It may be because your client has different tastes, yet you know that your design concept communicates his message. Sometimes your design might actually not communicate what the client wants. It is possible. If you are a real professional, you are able to take the client’s input and decide whether it’s time to change what you have done, or to put on your counsellor hat and tell the client why your solution works best. This has to be an honest look, and you cannot afford to simply say, “I am misunderstood” and keep going your way. You will lose clients.
If you cannot objectively look at what you have done, then you are not doing design, but you are doing a work of art, as art is very subjective. Design is objective… to a degree. Personal taste and style will always influence anything that has to do with creativity.
The trick is to learn how to channel that creativity.
A very important step in achieving this is to understand the client’s brief. Ask questions, make sure you fully grasp the message yourself. Then it will prove easier to think of ideas that carry that message. It’s hard to relay a phone message to a colleague, if the line of your cell phone was breaking up and you didn’t understand half of what was said, right?
September 10, 2009