This seems like a relatively straightforward question, and it very well could be. If you want to convey a message in a visual sense, you use words and images and a certain style of illustration or photography to set yourself apart from the competition.
Problem solved, end of story…right?
Well, not so much. Current trends place a strong emphasis on visual imagery, but as we push out large quantities of graphics, we must remember that quality will always remain the most important factor. Graphic design is a professional practice (and key client service) which requires thought, intention, and self-awareness. As a designer you must work on mastering your craft within the standard design principles taught in school such as balance, harmony, and continuance. Part of that process is to seek necessary feedback that will allow you to progress within your craft.
Much like a consultant, you must listen to all of the needs of the client and fully understand the challenge at hand. Without listening and assessing, the likeliness of creating a remedial fix instead of a lasting solution is incredibly high.
For example, if you have the task of designing a brochure, you need to understand your audience and the context in which they will be reading the brochure. From there we assess:
- What is the most vital information
- What needs to be called out in the established range of hierarchy
- What style of imagery would best appeal to the audience
Understanding the need through listening and feedback is what makes this a professional practice, but where is the need? Where is the value added from working with a graphic designer?
Let’s think about our brochure example again. While we want it to be executed well from the perspective of craft, we also need to ask the question of whether this is the right means to deliver the content, or what might convey the message in a more effective manner. If we don’t ask questions and have conversations of such a nature then it is likely we are not truly serving our clients’ best interests.
It is our ability to think through design that provides value, and we do so by researching and creating on our own projects, writings, or client work. Progression then takes place not only within your portfolio, but for design as a profession as well, and at the end of the day it’s all about progression.
People are not always going to be saying the same things and thinking the same way, so the need for our ability to think through design will have to keep up, if not ahead.