Graphic Design is one of three pathways within the Visual Communication programme, alongside Illustration and Experimental Communication. It explores and evolves expanded notions of graphic design practice within the interdisciplinary field of Visual Communication, acknowledging current industry, social and educational contexts, while extending and disrupting the tools, intent and role of graphic design.
Establishing critical perspectives on the nature of graphic design practice whilst seeking out and defining new territories and contexts on the edges of and beyond the discipline itself, is central to the way that we operate and to the work that we do. With the increasing interoperability of communication – a designer’s audience now receives and transmits information through multiple devices and sources – often simultaneously. A communication designer must be able to understand, navigate and create these ‘experiences’ to bring meaning, clarity and understanding. The delivery of information is entirely integrated into how, why and when we experience it.
Within this landscape, it is critical that we challenge both the definitions and the role of the graphic designer. To do this, there are two main subject clusters within the pathway. Visible Language focuses on expanding and challenging primary and fundamental subject thinking – and making – specific to graphic designers. Graphic Agency seeks to test and deploy those tools to explore the relationship between graphic design, spatial environments and emerging territories and contexts outside of the discipline itself. The pathway is supported by a series of critical making workshops shared with the Experimental Communication and Illustration pathways.
Within Visible Language, Graphic Designers use their understanding of audience and context to test strategies of making, materiality and collaboration to experiment with, extend and challenge the vocabulary, tools and craft of graphic design. The Graphic Designer seeks to develop an expanded approach to typography, editorial design, interactive media, the materiality of text, graphic information and screen-based design. Beyond craft, they also interrogate the mechanisms of distribution, modes of dissemination and methods of engagement/ publishing. Testing research methodologies, developing technical knowledge, as well as establishing critical perspectives on the tools of the graphic designer is at the heart of visible language.
Within Graphic Agency, Graphic Designers enact collaborative, researched-focused, self-authored projects that deploy the skills and tools of the designer to produce work that is placed within defined sites, territories, contexts, situations outside of the discipline itself. It is within this area that the lens of the graphic designer is applied to subject matter, issues, and interests that speak to the designer’s own values, voice and perspective. The graphic designer is invited to question the role and extend the potential of subject – through engaging with fields and methods of social anthropology, AI, economics, environmentalism, political/participatory engagement, urbanism, archival practice, activism, digital aesthetics etc – with the aim to inform, stimulate and educate. Along with specific subjects, it is also an invitation to test site-specific ways of working – engaging directly with physical locations, publicness, spatial environments and communities.