Blog: Graphic Design is Visual Communication

I often tell people many designers can create something that looks cool, but good graphic designers create cool things that communicate well. That’s one of the key differences between what fine artists and graphic designers are asked to do. Fine artists create their feeling, their mood, whereas graphic designers convey someone's message. What does a company do, how do they do it, how can they help you, are some of the questions graphic designers must solve in their art.

I see this so often with my students. Some are amazing at creating beautiful designs, patterns, visuals, but they miss the point on getting the correct message to the viewer within that beautiful piece. I’ve seen a wonderful whimsical design with fun colors and illustrations fail because it had nothing to do with the accounting firm and its dedication to quality and professionalism. Likewise I remember years ago writing a piece in HOW Magazine about why I felt the new logo for the San Diego Padres failed because it used a recreational boat sail and wave motif instead of something associated with the actual mascot, a Padre. Whether the logo looked good or not wasn’t the point, the point was the logo was much better suited for the San Diego Sails than for the San Diego Padres (see the wave logo vs the friar above, which conveys a baseball team named the Padres better?)

Don’t get me wrong. I love fine art. I wanted to be a fine artist and create amazing paintings and see them hung in galleries. I have great admiration for those who can actually be successful and support themselves in that world. My point is that a beautiful painting or illustration or layout alone isn't a successful graphic design solution. I am quite happy being a graphic designer, a visual communicator. I get to create and hopefully communicate clear messages to the world in a visually pleasing way.

— Hovie Hawk

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