Unit 5, Entry 1: Updated Definition of Graphic Design

The first assignment of this course was to define graphic design in our own words, without doing any research or digging through other materials. While the idea of defining an entire profession is a bit daunting, I came up with the following definition:

graphic design is a vocational discipline in which a designer visually informs and/or persuades a viewer, often in relation to specific communication efforts (marketing-related or otherwise).

Five weeks later we are to re-address the original definition we posted now that we have had the opportunity to focus a little more on research, and have had some more background as to what other conversations have discussed on the topic. Going back to my original definition, I see several parts I would like to re-address.

First, I would like to narrow my focus a bit from the previous attempt. When coming up with the previous definition, I defined graphic design in broader terms, almost devoid of my own personal biases and opinions on what it is. I would now like to refine the words ‘vocational discipline’ to ‘profession.’

Now this simple change can prove to be controversial, since by the strictest definitions of what constitutes a profession, graphic design doesn’t exactly qualify. Not to mention that this very debate has been going on for years, without any real resolution. But, for my own definition, I think it is appropriate to call it a profession.

Secondly, I would change ‘informs and/or persuades’ to ‘communicates, informs and persuades’ as I think informing/persuading feels too narrow.

Thirdly, I’d change the word ‘viewer’ to ‘audience,’ as I now understand that there are different types of audience for the communication a designer produces.

And finally, I’d like to completely re-address the last portion of my definition, currently stated as ‘often in relation to specific communication efforts (marketing-related or otherwise)’ and instead focus on what graphic design is meant to do. So, the updated definition looks more like this:

graphic design is a profession in which a designer communicates, informs and persuades an audience by adding context, clarity and insight to business and social communications challenges.

In many ways, I believe this new definition captures a slightly narrower view of what graphic design is, though it still remains broad in the practical applications of the profession. I’m sure it will change yet again in the next five weeks. Stay tuned.