Can you handle open endings? A graphic design research journey.

Estimated reading time: 1 minutes 55 seconds

We are surrounded by graphic design. Even though most people are in contact with it every day, they are not aware of it. Which means there are still some questions to answer: What is graphic design? What do graphic designers do? How do graphic designers work?

At the beginning, these questions seemed silly to me. Why should I not be able to answer these questions? I am a User Experience Designer and I studied Graphic Design. So I should know, right? For me, graphic design is a visual language. It is like translating a text into a different language. We translate a message into a visual combination of text and image. I am just not sure if my answer is the right one. Perhaps there are more aspects around the topic that I am missing. I started to question my answer to be able to create a deeper understanding. This is where my search about “what is graphic design” began. (Batliner, 2016)

whatisgraphicdesign_poster1 whatisgraphicdesign_poster2 whatisgraphicdesign_poster3

Posters created by Stephanie Batliner

“The path isn’t a straigt line; it’s a spiral.
You continually come back to things
you thought you 
understood and see deeper truths.”

– Barry H. Gillespie

I started asking random people about it. I guess you can imagine what kind of answers I got….“something with photoshop”. Nonetheless, I guess it was worth trying. I looked for solutions in books. I did some own projects around the topic. I searched for answers from professionals who are working in the creative industry. Even leading names in the creative industry, don’t have one clear answer. The Design Council (2010) published videos around the topic graphic design six years ago. (Batliner, 2016)

What is graphic design? from Design Council on Vimeo.

Although graphic design seems quite simple at first glance, it is a complex area. There is not one answer which covers everything. My journey to find a suitable answer ended with accepting that there are many answers. Personally, graphic design is not just a visual language anymore. It is also a response, a voice, an attitude and a mood. Furthermore, it is about understanding in order to find a suitable way to express. I believe this question will accompany myself during my whole career. The answer will be more specified step by step. (Batliner, 2016)

As Norman Potter (1980) says: „Design is a field of concern, response, and enquiry, as often as decision and consequence.”

Reference list:

Batliner, S., 2016. Graphic Design Portfolio. Kingston University London.

Design Council (2010) What is graphic design? Available at: (Accessed: 23 October 2016).

Design Council (2010) What does a graphic designer do? Available at: (Accessed: 23 October 2016).

Design Council (2010) The process of graphic design. Available at: (Accessed: 23 October 2016).

Potter, N., 1980. What is a designer. Hyphen press.

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