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“The eye that thinks, the thought that sees, the sight that touches, the words that burn." –Octavio Paz.

How do we perceive the world? We organize, cluster. We fill in the blanks in an attempt to make sense of the world. Shapes. Memes. Frags. Symbols. Signs. We see and use shapes, lines, similarity, association, proximity, foreground/background, and we reduce to their simplest forms.

How do we perceive and shape a two-dimensional surface? What is the nature of visual perception? Contrast visual and verbal communication.

[frags exercise] | [optical illusions]

What is graphic design? Problem solving. Conceive, plan and execute designs that communicate a specific message to a specific audience within limitations -- financial, physical, psychological.

Financial: has to be black and white, for ex.
Physical: poster, or greeting card, or three-fold brochure
Psychological: poster likely will be read through a store window from 15 feet

Visual communication has its own vocabulary, grammar, syntax, composition and meaning. Its history precedes written language, yet how much education have you had, are you still getting on written communication? When were your crayons and paints taken away? Why does education in visual communication and visual literacy cease? It is taken for granted. We see effortlessly, or so we think.

How much freedom do you have?
What is required of the artifact?
What facilitates (v. hinder
s) communication of the message?

What do the following communicate? Think of these artifacts as statements of design.

Toilet
Michael Graves kettle
BMW

(downloadable Word doc with all images for this lecture)

In this class, we're dealing with mostly posters, books, signs, billboards, newspapers, magazines, brochures, Web pages. You will communicate something. The question is WHAT?

For any design project:
Who is your audience?
What constraints do you have?
What is the goal or purpose?

History | Context | Library | Memory >> What has worked in the past? What is recurrent? What is fashionable? You want to be on the leading edge but not the bleeding edge. What is local? Global?

Start a clip file or idea folder. Have several organized by theme, task or subject matter. How did others solve a particular problem and what decisions did they make to arrive at that solution? Not to imitate but to learn the vocabulary and the possibilities.

Starting out:

1. Storyboards. Thumbnails. Sketches. Trial and error. Brainstorming. The creative process. Messy (like a kitchen or art studio)
2. Roughs. About 1/2 the normal size and rough.
3. Comps. Near final.
4. Presentation. Time to sell it.
5. Production. Time to build it.

So, you must know what is possible and what is not. What can be produced and re-produced. A genius design that can't be mass produced? Trash bin or book shelf.

Imagination. Visualization. Higher thinking.

History

Where to begin?
30,000 years ago and cave painting?
2,000 years ago and heiroglyphics, which began us on our human way toward an alphabet?
500 years ago, Gutenberg and printing technology?

How about 1890, or when what we would describe as graphic design established itself coincident with the Industrial Revolution? Sudden and explosive growth in graphic design as part of this greater flowering of innovatino in media, creativity and commerce. Preceding this period was the Victorian Era (1835-1900).

1824: 1st photographic metal engraving
1852: 1st halftone screen (image represented with dots)
1868: 1st automated steam press for lithography
1893: Color process work succeeds

1880s: Art Nouveau. French advertising posters. Henri de Toulouse-Latrec. Jules Cheret.

1900: Mission. Arts and Crafts movement. Tiffany stained-glass. Picasso and cubism. Freud and sexuality, dreams. Major shift away from nature and realism to structuring reality ourselves -- imagining -- existentialism -- nihilism.

WWI: Belief in technology, machines, industry, that they would create a better world and a leisure class.

1919: Bauhaus (Germany/Weimar). School of thought and design combining images with typography, text. Tried to bridge the gap between pure and applied art. Function and form, stressing functional forms. Result: industrial designers. Bauhaus came to the US after the Nazis shut the school down in 1933. HUGE influence on design, architecture, typography (bauhaus, futura, universal), and still a major force today.

1925: Art Deco. Paris. Influences: African sculpture, Picasso cubism. Emphasized form rather than function, figure, image, decorative effect, unity. Figurative.

Surrealism: Philosophy, attitude, visual expression. Freud. Joyce. Dreams, references, interpretation. Not linear, rational thought. Rene. Magritte. Max Ernst. Man Ray. Dali. Unorthodox arrangement of objects >> "Look again!"

1950s: Design schools and curricula began proliferating -- universities and art schools.

1960s: Magazines proliferate and, therefore, magazine designs, which serve to give currency and expression to trends in design, in visual artifacts. Harper's. Rolling Stone. seventeen.

1970s: New Wave or postmodern graphic design. Mixing of formal and popular, Art Deco, Art Nouveau. Liberal mixing, revising and re-combining. Psychedelic also emerged during this period.

1980s: Style over substance is questioned. Role of advertising design on society is debated. Consumption in general is criticized. Agassi: "Image is everything." Well, maybe it isn't.

1990s: Desktop publishing. Sophisticated software for the masses. Ubiquity. So much more of everything >> the good, the bad, the ugly. Massification of "we" media. Everyone is a publisher. (No one is an editor.) Everyone is a graphic designer, re-mixer, publisher. Digital revolution.

Next time: Gestalt | Semiotics | Omniphasism | History of the Poster

Sources: Amy E. Arntson, Graphic Design Basics, Wadsworth Publishing
Graphic Communications Today, 4th ed., Bill Ryan and Theodore Conover, Thompson Delmar



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