• Linda Pizzitola

What is Graphic Design? Part 2


The premiere issue of my newsletter,The Graphics Grapevine, in January 2004, included the classic essay by Jessica Helfand, “What is Graphic Design?” Five years later John Wade, the brilliant designer and teacher behind Before & After magazine, put that question to his readership, probably all of whom are graphic designers. Of the 251 responses, here are some of my favorite definitions:

  • a combination of visual and information architecture

  • art with an ulterior motive

  • clear thinking made visible

  • a way to communicate that engages both the left and right sides of the brain

  • not just making it pretty but making it work

  • visual translations

  • the art and architecture of visual communication

  • what puts the sizzle in the steak

  • bringing elements together to make something greater than the sum of its parts

  • the interface between consciousness and matter

  • the distillation of  complex information

  • taking information (what goes to the head) and adding emotion (what goes to the heart)

  • a communication language using visual grammar to craft effective statements

  • making people feel, touch, hear, smell and taste through their eyes

  • visual explanations

  • capturing attention, organizing information and transmitting concepts and passions

  • motivating, informing and persuading

  • communication in the form of art and art in the form of communication

See John Wade’s original post  here.

VIDEO. For more from the designer’s perspective, see PBS Off Book’s new release, The Universal Arts of Graphic Design (6:27)

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