What Is Graphic Design? Part 1
Updated: Apr 18
by Jessica Helfand
American Institute of Graphic Arts
Graphic design is the most ubiquitous of all the arts. It responds to needs at once personal and public, embraces concerns both economic and ergonomic, and is informed by many disciplines including art and architecture, philososhy and ethics, literature and language, science and politics and performance.
Graphic design is everywhere, touching everything we do, everything we see, everything we buy: we see it on billboards and in Bibles, on taxi receipts and on web sites, on birth certificates and on gift certificats, on the folded circulars inside jars of aspirin and on the thick pages of Children's chubby board books.
Graphic design is the boldly directional arrows on street signs and the blurred frenetic typography on the title sequence to E.R. It is the bright green logo for the New York Jets and the monochromatic front page of the Wall Street Journal. It is the hang-tags in clothing stores, postage stamps and food packaging, fascist propaganda posters and brainless junk mail.
Graphic design is complex combinations of words and pictures, numbers and charts, photographs and illustrations that, in order to succeed, demand the clear thinking of a particularly thoughtful individual who can orchestrate these elements so they all add up to something distinctive, or useful, or playful, or surprising, or subversive, or somehow memorable.
Graphic design is a popular and and a practical art, an applied art and an ancient art. Simply put, it is the art of visualizing ideas.
See also "What Is Graphic Design Part 2"