Who is a Graphic Designer?

Published on 31st March 2009

Adverts reading “Graphic Designer available”  dot classified sections of daily newspapers, markets, streets and corridors of commercial buildings. Other common forms such “Artist available” and “ask for sign writers here” are written on off-cut timber and nailed on woods or trees at busy junctions or round-abouts. Sales people also market graphic design services through sample portfolios containing  business cards, brochures, fliers, booklets, posters, wedding cards, programs, menus, covers and many others. They claim to offer graphic design and printing and even general stationery supplies. These are all efforts to catch the attention of potential clients to their businesses. 

My concern is whether they have the capacity to satisfy their customers. How can the client evaluate them in the initial process of designing? The way a graphic designer interprets the client's brief will tell a lot about them. Those who claim to be designers with basic computer software skills may skip vital processes and rush to the computer to solve the customer’s problem briefs. They may also fail to have a pencil and a sketch pad which are a must for creative designers.  

The end products never meet the expected standards and can be detrimental to the society. Since all people will be affected by various products and services of graphic design, it is important to understand who they are, how they think and what they conceptualize because of lack of research. 

There are two kinds of Graphic Designers: the pretty and smart. The pretty designer says “I will make it look good,” period. The Graphic designer who likes to probe, investigate and experiment always says “let me think about this problem, figure-out a concept, consider the aesthetics, and express it visually. This smart approach is the more difficult of the two. The designer has to struggle, ideate, ruminate, brood, interpret and explore. He  tries different creative approaches and may fail. But when he succeeds, he will end up with an intelligent design solution.  

A designer who takes the smart approach is always creative. Creating requires two fundamental things; thinking about what one sees and visualizing what one thinks. Designers ought to think in visual terms, to understand the design language so well that one can manipulate the elements and principals to communicate an idea in visual form.  

A designer should take a subject, develop a concept for it and communicate its meaning through the visual language, a language we call ‘graphic design’. It is necessary that the graphic expert know which images, forms, shapes, type and colours that are appropriate for the subject and can as well make the design creative and memorable. The designs created should retain the attention of the viewer.  

Creating a design requires three abilities: Problem solving, which is the formulation of concepts and solutions; Creativity, which is seeing possibilities in any given problem and Visualization, which is the representation of concepts in visual form. 

Making things aesthetically pleasing is a large part of what most graphic designers do. It is what separates the graphic designer from a non-graphic designer with access to page layout software. There is much more to graphic design than just making things impress the eyes: creative visual thinking is. 

Graphic design uses words and images to create effective communication. After all a graphic designer is an idea professional who has the ability to communicate through visual language effectively. 

Adams Namayi Wamukhuma.

Graphic Designer.

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