Are We Witnessing the Death of Graphic Design?

The huge popularity of the Internet and an increasingly high standard of digital design are meaning that traditional graphic design and branding are not the top dogs any more. Digital design is served to the masses on a daily basis through websites, email blasts, television and eBooks. So where does this leave traditional graphic design, are we witnessing the death of graphic design as we know it?

There is nothing quite like holding a fine quality bound book in your hand, the touch, the feel, the paper weight, the gloss finish and the vibrant colours that pantone provides. Even with the depletion of the Rain Forests and a reduction in popular demand for paper-based goods, there will always be those consumers who want these products. Just as vinyl has remained in the era of digital recordings, paper will ride the storm too - that's good news for the traditional graphic designer. Whether or not paper based goods will become a niche rather than a mass market remains to be seen.

But are the two schools of design really that much different anyway? Surely what we are talking about here is evolution and progression as one area of design drifts into another and we end up with convergence and even more types of design as a result.

Digital and conventional graphic design differ in colour, font and context consideration. The role of a Digital Designer is one that is more technical in terms of having to understand the technical aspects of web browser technology and scripting for accessibility so all of their audience can view their work without exception. But the conventional Graphic Designer must also consider technical aspects such as print methods and font theory.

There are clearly some fundamental differences between a Graphic Designer and a Digital Designer but there are also many parallels. Essentially, both use images, text, and typography to create an effect and to communicate a message to their chosen audience.

Just as Graphic Designers have had to adapt to web design, Web Designers will need to adapt to future developments in mobile technology and other new hardware devices that will challenge their current working practise.

Many Graphic Designers have adopted web design skills in order to survive and win work. The approach of mixing both the traditional and the digital design skills is now a common one and is echoed in the industry that often feeds much of this work through - Marketing. The demand now is more for integrated campaigns where offline design supports online design in a seamless way.

There is certainly more demand now for digital design courses than more traditional design courses and this reflects the move in skills. New courses are appearing all the time, many built around the software that is used to design in today's design world, the majority of Digital Designers and Graphic Designers sit side by side using the same suite of software.

What is changing significantly is the manor in which audiences respond to information. The format of online design keeps 'the message' short as the focus increases on our ever-decreasing attention span. The video game generation don't have time for 700 page novels with hand illustrated chapter headings, they are too busy scanning the vast array of information which now presents itself only a few clicks away.

Does this mean that we will end up with mini-books the size of postage stamps? I think not. It does, however, signal a new era of design for both graphic and digital design. There will still be books in 200 years time and they will still adhere to the same design principles but we will be reading them on Google Books via a hand held device. It is unlikely that we will be reading Shakespeare from our wristwatch as it will be illegible - so if technology is changing you can still count on the good old human race. We may be evolving but unless something drastic happens designers will still be designing for humans in 2209.

So Graphic Designers, don't hang up your Pantone Pens yet, all is not lost - come back, all is forgiven!

If you would like to find out more about graphic design in Durham, please visit the graphic design Durham website.

Author: Jamie Wisdom
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