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Understanding Graphic Design - What is Graphics Design?

written by: Laura Jean Karr•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 11/17/2010

Take a closer look at some brief graphic design history, while learning more about what graphic design is in today's modern creative world.

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    What Makes Up Graphic Design?

    Graphic design is a compilation of many design type arts. Instead of regular art for art's sake, with graphic design the art being created is focused on visual presentation and communication.

    Specific art being done under the label of graphic design can range from photography, typography and printing through to hand drawn and computer generated art. The design aspect comes from creating art/graphics to convey specific ideas and messages in a form that is pleasing to the eye.

    For more information on graphic design, check out Desktop Publishing Tips and Principles of Design Basics and Learn New Graphic Design Trends.

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    Brief Components in Graphic Design History

    piet mondrain,graphic design examples 

    The industry of graphic design, as we know it today began with the advent of art created on a grid. Piet Mondrain, a late 19th century Dutch painter created a grid for his work that enabled him to layout the elements that he needed for certain pieces of work. Piet's use of creating art for specific purposes based on a grid grew in recognition and is at the base of what became the standard grid system that is used to day in design layouts. To get a better idea of what Piet Mondrain's grid artwork looked like, see the painting to the left entitled "New York." Click on the image to see it enlarged.

    Between 1880 and 1910, the Arts and Crafts Movement had a huge influence on the industry of graphic design. The movement spanned across the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and America giving resurgence to the idea of using various art forms for informational purposes while helping to support the artists and designers who created such works. More information on the Arts and Crafts Movement can be found through the current Arts and Crafts Society web site.

    This is just brief example of some graphic design history. More can be learned through AIGA online, which is a professional associate for design.

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    Graphic Design in Modern Times

    Since the industry of graphic design has developed over the years to support a growing number of graphic designers, the basis for graphic design is no longer a small area. In today's world graphic design is used for television, billboards, web sites, films and all manner of print media such as magazines and brochures.

    Graphic designers begin with a basic layout for a project and then utilize art forms like typography and images. The type of lettering, colors and where images will be placed to convey the final impression are just more aspects of the final design. The use of computer technology has given designers an easier and more reproduce-able way to blend design elements for a finished project. Print items such as business cards, brochures, fliers and even books are all representative forms of graphic design.

    graphic design examples, what is graphic design 

    Graphic design and the work that graphic designers create can be seen in the world every day. Items like soda cans, water bottles, cereal boxes and the myriad of advertising through different medias are so prevalent that they have become common. Print items such as business cards, brochures, fliers and even books are all representative forms of graphic design.

    To the left is a graphic design compilation that represents various design forms. The compilation was created by Rangaga to showcase RedBubble graphic artists. Click on the image to get a larger view and check out RedBubble to see the work of more graphic artists.

Understanding Graphic Design

Find out more about graphic design through these series of articles. From learning more about what graphic design is, the elements that make up graphic design and what tools are used in the creative process.
  1. Understanding Graphic Design - What is Graphics Design?
  2. Understanding the Elements of Graphic Design
  3. Understanding Graphic Design - Top Programs
  4. Understanding Graphic Design - Top Free Utilities & Tools