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    Graphic Design is a Language

    Just like English, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Arabic or Sanskrit, graphic design is a language. It’s a way to organize forms in order to communicate a message. And, as such, graphic design is (or should be)—more often than not—the medium or vehicle, and not the end in itself.

    Recently a friend confessed to me that he was kinda tired of graphic design. It had gotten old for him. I get what he means. He was tired of graphic design about graphic design. It seems to me that graphic design as an industry has a tendency to be self-referencing more than most industries. If we think of design as a language and compare it to the English language, it would be like only using English to talk about the English language (or to put it another way, perpetual grammar class). While grammar class is necessary to learn a language, too much of it can get boring—fast.

    This may seem obvious, but think of all the other things we can use English to communicate about. We can use it to communicate about… That’s right, anything. So it is with design. You can use it as a language to communicate whatever you want. Yes, the better you know the language, the more skilled you will be at using it to communicate. You have to think about it directly before you can let it be a passive vehicle for another message.

    If you’re bored with graphic design, find a message about which you are passionate. Use graphic design to communicate that message. I believe you’ll find your sense of excitement and purpose renewed.

    About the Author: 

    i moved to brooklyn, ny in 2006 in pursuit of a design career. i’ve conceptualized and designed many brand identities, corporate documents, promotional items and more, with a heavy emphasis on type.

    my goal now is to explore design, specifically graphic design, as a social phenomenon and the impact it has on our communities, for better or worse. i hope you’ll join me in the conversation.



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