Terminology in design…continue..

The last time I wrote in this blog is when I was going around trying to understand terminologies in graphic design.. I am now no longer interesting in the design terminology as I think it doesn’t really matter. What really matters is my understanding of the process, the practice and so on, regardless what ever people call them, and language is the barrier in this case. As Shakespeare said ‘ What’s in the name?’..But this process is like finding your own practice identity..Who are you? Are you a graphic design? Interaction designer? Communication designer? Visual Designer? Or does it really matter?

I have also changed my research title from “Questioning the designer’s roles in construction of Malaysian National Identity” to ” Questioning the graphic design influences in shaping the construction of Malaysia national identity“. I will talk about the rational behind the changes later on. Before I start, I would like to discuss, still, about the terminologies in design that been haunting me for a while. I think it’s good to share it here, so if anyone reading this blog have faced similar situation I would be more that happy to discuss about it. You can reach me through my RMIT email address [nurul.rahman[at]rmit.edu.au].

Now the terminology in design..I’m quite comfortable using the terms ‘graphic design’ in my research title rather than communication design. In my research most of my project are constructed around graphic design artifacts such as advertisements, mainly poster based, cartoons in newspaper and magazine covers. Interestingly, after going through the process of trying to understand and defining the terminology in design, the puzzle between ‘communication design’ and ‘graphic design’, I came out with other option which I will discuss later in after explaining the terminologies in design.

I have read Jorge Frascara (2004) his books on ‘Communication Design’, where he gave his quite a limited definition of what is communication design. I wasn’t convince with what he suggested, instead I found myself confuse with this suggestions. For Frascara (2004:3), communication design is like a music composer, where the communication designer roles is similar to the roles of ‘a mixer’ who brings parts of the music instruments together and later on produce some music from it. The designer have enough understanding and knowledge to be able to choose what kind of the instruments he want to be in the music he is producing.

My reaction after reading Frascara descriptions is ‘So what is the different between Frascara definition of Communication design with what Graphic Designer’s practices now?”. I think that is what most of graphic designer been doing, composing the visual representation to convey their message. One parts that I think could be taken forward in defining communication design, is as Frascara suggested, (I’ll add in the quote later), communication design aims to study the communication process happening before the process of creation and the impact after the production towards the society. But there are many authors who criticize the role of graphic design in similar position such as Malcomn Barnard (2005), Steven Heller (1997) to name few

I would argue that perhaps many the old school graphic designer have much more skills in printing process, printing quality, colour management and material used for printing rather than the newly grad graphic designer or some communication designer, therefore how would it be possible to have the knowledge to compose them together?. I feel that the term communication design is too broad, and it allow almost anyone who have the basic knowledge of design, the fundamental of design, can call themselves a communication designer. That process have thought to understand the terminologies in design and found terms ‘visual communication’ and would call myself a ‘visual communicators’, the term that are often used to described design process and practices by Rick Poynor (2004). Visual communication, for me reflected my practices, study, teaching and involvements in graphic design areas a lot more than graphic designer. In my practice I have used different visual medium such as photograph, painting, drawing, sketches, typography, computer effect in conveying my message to the audience, or to express my interest or awareness to others. Visual communicator have no need to have a reason to convey, client to please, or people to transmit the message to. Graphic designer work with client, message the transmitting, people they intend to convey and budget that need to consider.

Therefore, I’m a visual communicator, at least for now I found myself smiling comfortably using this terms.