Understanding Graphic Design not as Communication Design

Found this book on a library shelf one day, page and thought “the title is interesting!”. Although the book seems ‘old’ because the cover has been re-bind with a boring yellow color does not mean the book is boring too. Yes, visit I know don not judge the book by it cover seems to be whispering in my head.“The history of Graphic Design and Communication” by Clive Ashwin has been printed in 1983, along with many other graphic design book. Now the discussion in this book, is enough for us to understand what is communication when the discussions and articles in the book are related to advertising, press, newspaper, magazine, printing, color managements, product, materials, technologies, methods of making and creating, design, arts and many other words that link to the word communication. The technologies, methods, terms and practices have not changed much till today. But why do we have to change the term, again? Graphic design and communication, or graphic communication, or visual graphic communication just enough to describe the activities and meanings behind the roles of graphic design. To me, the terms are clear and specific enough focusing on graphic design practices or visual communication that are related to graphic forms.

Now let see the meaning describes in the dictionary of the word graphic. It means something that relates to visual arts, and describes the practice. But it did not mentioned anything with computer manipulation and designing. I think it about time we should restated or rethink the meaning of graphic. However, the term graphic design is also in the dictionary.

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Here the word graphic is describes with the word design.

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Now, if we put the meaning together it make sense, and includes the latest technologies used in the practice such as computer, digital camera, flash tools etc. Graphic design in its meaning show the link and  strong relations between graphic, creation, construction in relation mass communication media such as advertisements, magazines or books.

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But why the new fancy term such as Communication Design try to take over the old terms? From specific to a broader view in design. From understood the meaning to “what does it mean?” Now if we look at the word communication, it means :

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So what do communication designers do? Branding, marketing, promoting or perhaps pretending? I think that these areas are already covered by people who studied Marketing, Public Relations and Management, if they graduate from these courses, they will be occupied with theory and practices in these areas of discipline. But they will not have the skill and practice of a graphic designer. So, now back to the Communication Design term. I think that the creation of this new term is an attempt for many non-designer who think that can explore and expend the areas of graphic design. My question is “What is Communication Design?” what does it mean? One definition is written by J.Frascara in 2003 as an attempt to justify the term Communication Design by giving an example that Communication Design is like a music composer, where he/she would take things/ ideas from various areas and compose it. Well.. Frascara, to be able to compose, one should be occupied with deep understanding of visual communication theory and practice, and would be much better if this person also understood or been practicing graphic design, that includes the pre-press printing and the technology behind the practice.

The word Communication Design is indeed sounded savvy, and new, but what does it mean? It means that people who adopted and used this terms, are able to go around and said everything is related to Communication Design with very limited understanding and knowledge in practice and theory of what these areas means such as 1) design, 2) communication 3) marketing and public relation 4) information technology or interactive 5) graphic design and prepress 6) historical and identity 7) cultural studies and media, and the list can go on and on.. But what these people, who claimed to be the expert of the ‘new areas’ and understand the practice did is, composing everything that have the potencial to provide status, funding and ‘new terms’ and claimed that as the practice of Communication Design. The worst is the areas of expertise such as interior design, web design, graphic design, user design, product design and many others will be taken over by the ‘claimed to be the expert: Communication Design’ over these ‘petite expertise’.