Multimedia options and technology buttress need for graphic design
Technology, as they say, is everywhere. And it's in everyone's hands. Fifteen years ago, cell phones were still uncommon among adults. Today, it seems peculiar if a young child doesn't own one, too.
But phones are just a mere segment of the communication and multimedia explosion. The emergence of smartphones, Blackberries and iPads have made information accessible and available immediately, right upon our demand.
This new information age has sparked a rebirth in advertising, for every multimedia medium contains a staggering area of words, pictures and appeals -- almost all of which have been designed or influenced by a graphic designer along the way.
Log into your e-mail account and you are flooded with an array of local advertisements. You can work online, shop online, play games online, get homework help online and even get real-time advice from a certified mechanic about how to remove the radio from the dashboard in Graphic design 8
your car. And every click of the way, technology is tracing your every move, feeding you ads and offers that originated at the desk of a graphic artist or designer.
But technology is not only tethered to computer lines; it's also tethered to a gas pump. Some gasoline companies have programmed their pumps so that the moment a consumer selects his gasoline of choice -- regular, high-grade or premium -- a commercial touting the company begins to air (some would say blare) for the next five minutes.
The "sea change" in the world of technology has -- to borrow an expression of an earlier, less complicated time -- made Sherry Turkle's head spin in wonder. But Turkle, a professor at MIT for the last 25 years, notes that "we make our technologies and our technologies shape us."
But the next generation of college students should fear not, for the entire revolution is being documented for future introspection.
Joe Janes, chairman of the library and information science at the University of Washington and the person responsible for developing the Internet Public Library, recently stated he foresees a growing role for multimedia in the library (Mitchell, 2005).
Technology empowers but the operator rules the day
Much like TV programs devoted to home improvement projects have engendered legions of weekend warriors, so too has the accessibility and ubiquity of graphic design spawned countless amateur designers.
They have been encouraged by a cottage industry of "easy to follow" commercial templates and computer programs that guide wanna-be artists through the creation of business cards, brochures, Web sites and virtually any design challenge they wish to master.
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But have we also lost sight of the word master? -- "a person recognized as having achieved the highest degree of skill," according to Webster's New World College Dictionary.
To return to the original thesis question: is it possible to simply put the "right" technology in someone's hands -- even a caveman's hands -- and expect truly masterful graphic design to result?
Not unless that someone is graced with god-like powers of intuition, skill and years of experimentation, practice and education.
To wit: Not only does a graphic designer need to know how to use sophisticated computer programs to create designs, but he or she often needs to understand photography, editing, printing capabilities and context.
If a designer is creating an ad for the newspaper, he or she needs to consider several options: Will there be color? Is the font embedded into the design? Has the photo or graphic element been saved in the right dpi? (Does the novice designer even know what dpi -- dots per inch -- stands for?)
Many people have experienced issues opening a document at one time or another. If the font isn't embedded into the document, chances are, when it is opened on another computer, another font entirely will take place of the one that was so carefully chosen.
Even color has been standardized for the purposes of printing, enacted by the Association of Ink manufacturers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, in 1930 (Steven & Gluck, 1989).
It is tempting to turn to Columbia College in Chicago, one of the nation's premier schools for students seeking a career in the arts, for guidance in its training methodolgy. It is even more
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telling to see what this pre-eminent school requires in a graphic designer, working as an employee on the college's behalf (and according to the college's Web site):
Duties and Responsibilities:
Develop graphic design solutions to meet client needs for print and web projects.
Attend initial client meetings, when possible, and obtain client feedback.
Work in conjunction with our Web Development team to implement Web designs.
Ensure all digital files are correctly built for final printing.
Work with production manager on all print quoting to ensure budget is met and the most cost effective and quality solution is met.
Engage production technician as needed. Ensure design quality on jobs assigned to production staff and oversee final production.
Attend press checks as needed.
Proof projects for errors, obtain client approval and ensure printing accuracy.
Art direct photo shoots as needed.
Engage Creative Director and Senior Designers for art direction and feedback.
Perform related work as assigned.
Experience, education and training:
Bachelor's Degree with a concentration in graphic design.
Must be proficient in InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator.
Knowledge of Dreamweaver, Flash, and CSS preferred.
Familiarity with Wireframes, Information Architecture and Content.
Management Systems (CMS) a plus.
Two to three years progressive experience in graphic design and production.
Reading between the lines, the college's message is clear: truly masterful graphic design doesn't stand a chance of creation without training in the basic fundamentals of design and all of its wondrous elements.
Graphic design, though aided by the advancements in technology and the enthusiastic embrace of future artists, is still incumbent on the inherent talents and commitment of man himself.
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In fact, the future of graphic design -- and its ensuing contributions, if they can be called that -- is wholly dependent on whether man takes the pursuit of excellence to the same feverish pitch that he once assigned to the slaying of beasts.
Art, after all, can truly reside in the eyes of the beholder.
Chu, David. (2011, April 11). Interview.
Heller, S. (2010). Pop: how graphic design shapes popular culture. New York: Allworth Press.
Houghton Mifflin Company. (2006). Retrieved 3/12/2011, from Dictionary.com: