The language that is graphic design.



Thapelo Manonela

May 17 2020

You may not notice it, but we are exposed to graphic design on a daily bases. It’s almost as if everywhere we look, the way we identify or navigate through society, there it is. From locating a restroom by recognizing a toilet sign, to crossing the street safely thanks to the colors that flash from traffic lights, we can’t escape it. The discipline of Graphic Design has gone unappreciated regardless of how often people are exposed to it.

What is Graphic Design?

Before we go too far, let’s start by looking at the fundamental question; what is graphic design? Communication is and has been one of the most basic functions and necessary tools for survival. It has different languages, and each language is only effective within the select group of people that understand it. Just as English is a language that can be learned, from being able to understand it, to speak it; graphic design is a language that can be learned as well. What makes design different however is, almost anybody is able to understand it. If it were up to us, graphic design would be an official language.

Mila Jones in states: “Graphic Design is a visual language used to communicate ideas and solve problems. But unlike other languages, graphic design is a universal language and more adaptable to communicating a specific message. Simply because it uses all the basic elements of communication to communicate the most effectively.” 

Photo by Jeroen den Otter on Unsplash

What makes Graphic Design such an effective tool of communication. 

Dana Jandhyala on the website said: “One of the reasons are that our brains make sense of visuals a lot quicker and more effectively than they do literature, audio or any other form of communication. So that just makes communication a lot more effective and quicker.” This means that people are able to recognize and remember the meaning of a sign a lot easier than a written word in a certain language that they may not be accustomed to. Graphic design then serves as a bridge between all languages. This means it is able to communicate with more people than any other language is able to.

They tend to be quite good at grabbing attention and keeping the viewer interested. Jandhyala goes on to say: “imagery is the most simple, most effective way our brain stores information in our long-term memory… it is processed in the same part of the brain as our emotions.”

Photo by Murat Onder on Unsplash

What is the significance of graphic design in everyday life?

Cave drawings are considered to be the earliest discovered form of art, and possibly the early developments of graphic design. In a 2016 article on Head Stuff, Alexandra Kiely mentions how cave drawings were essential to the survival of early human beings. The art historian says this was because it influenced their hunting. It is believed that cave drawing was used to “exert power” over the animals and also increase the fertility of herds in the wild. Certain signs were left in caves as a warning for others to ensure survival. The drawings were also used to record history and culture.

In the current day, graphic designs’ most prominent use is in the digital world. The way in which people interact with digital platforms on their screens has a big input from the world of graphic design. The user interface (UI), is there to serve an aesthetic purpose. This makes the interaction more pleasing and is meant to invoke certain feelings about the platform which a user is interacting with. The user experience (UX), is meant to make the functionality and journey of a platform easier and pleasant.

Now more than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen how the use of design is used to inform the public about what the world is going through. The World Health Organization has done a great job at making sure that their communications have come with illustrations that make it easier for the public to understand complex issues on the matter.

In conclusion, we must be able to note that good designers are important for the world to maintain visual order and communicate with fewer barriers. Graphic design is an art form that will always serve society when used well. Graphic design, from our perspective, is more than just a logo or pictures that look good, it communicates things that no language in the world is able to, and what a beautiful language it is to speak.

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