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Graphic Communication Overview

The discipline of graphic communication requires graphic communicators (designers) to solve communication problems by interpreting ideas and translating them into visual systems. These ideas are intended to convey meaning to an audience. The audience may become inspired, informed, or persuaded by the message. The designer creates and directs large projects where by a design may be applied systematically to communication.  The designer’s work often involves collaboration between many individuals including the client purchasing the communication. Teamwork and communication skills are essential for the success of the designer. In the development of the solution, design objectives must allow for the constraints of time, space, budget, and technology.

The translation of ideas using visual structure such as pattern and color can be represented in two or three-dimensional form. Traditionally, graphic communication represented design printed on surfaces. Graphic design has expanded to represent visual layout using typography, photography, and illustration that is applied to a variety of media, and is especially represented digitally in web page design or in digital interactive media. 

Most design projects involve a process that starts with research and planning. As design objectives are formulated to determine the needs of communication, visual structure is used to manipulate how the audience should perceive the information. Figure ground relationships, contrast, direction, size and shape relationships, are just some of the visual concepts that can create a visual information hierarchy. Designers start this visual process by sketching to develop and refine concepts. 

The AD 118 Introduction to Graphic Communication is the first course in the concentration studio core. In it students explore figure ground relationships with both electronic and hand techniques. The next course AD 218 Graphic Communication Studio Practices involves the design of typographic layout and continued computer-based learning.  For the junior level course, AD 318 Graphic Communication: Seminar, students design advanced publication layouts and learn production processes. The seniors in the AD 418 Graphic Communication: Seminar course design corporate identity campaigns. Lastly, the AD 455 BFA Seminar, prepares students for finding a job through self-promotion and portfolio preparation.

Other classes that will support these core offerings are drawing, illustration, photography, and electronic imaging. The electronic imaging classes focus on multimedia and web design.  Web design is taught in both concentrations electronic imaging and graphic communication. 

Technology plays an important role in Graphic Communication.  The school has four Mac-based labs open for use by the students.  Each student leases a Mac laptop computer on a two-year cycle. Software applications used by graphic communication students are: Adobe Photoshop CS, Adobe Illustrator CS, QuarkXPress, Macromedia Dreamweaver, and Macromedia Flash.  They are all available on the MacBook laptops along with wireless Internet connection. Our lab image is state-of-the-art providing students with hardware and software to better prepare them for the working world. 

There are a variety of jobs available in this field. Everything from design firms and ad agencies to corporations to non-profit groups or television require graphic designers.  Graduates have obtained jobs in Detroit, Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis, and all over Michigan and the country at large. There is an increasing need and understanding of the role of graphic communication in business and beyond.