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Art is a form of expression that dates back to the beginning of time. Since then it has evolved and changed to adapt to modern times. Whether that be through a shift in style, in medium, or technology. Graphic design, contrary to popular belief, actually began in 1922, to define graphic art across time. Since the introduction of the modern computer and graphic design software, it has evolved into an n art style that is present everywhere in the modern world. Graphic design has many different styles just as normal art does, ranging from the minimalism of Apple, to the typographic nature of many modern advertisements.
Graphic design isn’t just a form of art anymore, but it rather is a medium through which much of our life is defined. To understand the concept of graphic design, you must first analyze graphic design in the modern world, the techniques used, and finally the different mediums available to achieve high quality art. In 1976 Ronald Wayne designed the very first Apple Computer Co.
logo. This logo depicted Isaac Newtown sitting under a tree to reflect the revolutionary nature of this. However, Wayne’s design wasn’t appreciated by many, and thus did not gain much popularity.
In less than a year, Steve Jobs commissioned Rob Janoff, one of the most famous graphic designers ever, to design the new Apple logo, a rainbow silhouette of an apple. This reflected the idealistic nature of the computers and also showed the powerful aspect that the computers hold with the ability to process so many different colors.
In 1998 however, the Apple logo changed its colorful nature to a monochromatic look reflecting the modern nature of the world, not to mention the contrast between the color schemes of the gray computers with monochrome logos. (Davis “Evolution and History of the Apple Logo”)
Graphic design has not just revolutionized logo design, but has also revolutionized other aspects of life, such as infamous cartoons. Before the inception of modern graphic design, cartoon artists have to hand draw their cartoons, and often resulted in many mistakes and rough looking images. With the inception of graphic design, cartoon art has shifted from being simple and childish, to being extravagant and mature. The TV shows Avatar the Last Airbender is one of the key examples of this. The art on this reflects many aspects of our own history. Such as East-Asian, Inuit, Indian and south-American cultures.
The show has won many awards, many of them being for the concentration on art and the superior quality of it (DiMartino “Avatar the Last Airbender: The Art of the Animated series”) Before modern graphic design, artists often worked for wealthy businesses and could not afford to work on their own. Walt Disney founded The Walt Disney Company under this premise, and hired many artists to work for him. Now the Walt Disney Company is one of the biggest and most well-known companies in the world, and the shift from old styles of art to modern graphic design has changed it completely.
Now movies and TV shows can be produced in a matter of days with the proper team, rather than in the olden ages where it took many months if not years to produce the art for a movie. This modern graphic design, like any other art styles holds a battery of techniques associated with it, as these techniques provide methods to convey the idea, or message. One of the simplest techniques that can be used is the simple modification of contrast. High contrast lines make it easier for the read to determine the difference between different sections of the page.
Joost de Valk, the graphic artist behind yoast. om, uses this technique quite extensively as seen on their homepage (yoast. com). Other sites such as wordpress. com also use this technique, most famously in their “download” button, to make the deep orange button stand out amongst the calm palette of blues and grays. Through the usage of contrast, attention is drawn to contrasting items, and thus the reader’s focus is diverted to certain topics. Most contrasts however work directly with gradients. The site Media Temple uses an extensive amount of gradients, mainly to illustrate the modern attitude of their site.
These gradients are however, subtle. The gradients thus emphasize the importance of certain topics, by placing lighter colors at the bottom and darker at the top, the object is seen to be progressing through time in essence. There however exists a variety of gradients. Gradients can be radial gradients (circular eminations), vertical linear fade, horizontal linear fade, horizontal radial fade, vertical radial fade and just simple linear fade. These different designs all work hand in hand to create direction on the page.
By creating direction on the page, certain topics can be emphasized and others can be dismissed. The key flaw that many new designers face in regards to gradients is the flow of the gradients. If too many gradients are placed on a page or the gradients contrast, then the gradients will seem amateur and will detract from the quality of the website. Gradients must however be in accordance with color schemes. Certain colors work well together, while others tend to be a nuisance. Take for example the design of the Los Angeles Lakers logo.
They utilize the colors of gold and purple, both of which are opposite one another on the color wheel. Thus these colors, through contrast, in fact bring out the overall appearance of the team. Then examine the logo that Lasko fans uses. Their color scheme is a simple brown and yellow, and yet this color scheme makes their logo appear dull and overused. Lasko fans, and LA Lakers both have the same potential for superior logo quality, but because of color selection, the LA Lakers hold more graphic quality in regards to their respective logos than does Lasko fans… Cohen “Evolution of NBA Team Logos”,). Gradients, contrast and color are the three most basic techniques used in graphic art, and can define a work as either superior, or amateur. All three of these concepts work together to create the concept of “visual identity”. Visual identity is a term coined by Abduzeedo (world renown Brazilian graphic designer), meaning simply the “definitive element within the design process used across all applications and branding materials”. As discussed above this could be as simple as the apple logo, or even as complex as a stamp.
Most large organizations have a visual identity, even the US Government does. The visual identity of the US Government for example could be the American flag, or the bald eagle, as this is present throughout their entire brand line. During 2008, President Obama used the concept of the visual identity, but took it one step further and used the “verbal identity”. He associated the word “change” with his campaign so that this would become an integral part of it. By utilizing the word change he essentially created a memorable center point for his campaign messages by which people could remember and associate with him.
Abduzeedo “The Makery – Visual Identity”) A problem that many graphic artists face is a problem that much of the world faces: “why? ” Much of graphic art just like modern problems revolves around the question of “why” and the purpose of art rather than the material it holds. Richard Simkens, a world renowned marketer, identified this concept as the golden circle. (R. Simkens 10) in this golden circle, at the outside is the “what”. What the company sells or what the art is made up of takes part f this circle.
In the middle circle are the “how” or how the company makes and the process that the designer uses to create the art. At the center and the most important is the “why” or what the purpose of it is. Great graphic artists such as surrealist Roy Villalobos attempt to analyze and fix this concept. His art philosophy is that he attempts to express his emotions through the usage of metamorphic human figures. By attempting to mix the human physiology with what he perceives to be the emotions he creates a surrealist work of art that holds purpose.
Electronic graphic art is what is currently shaping the world. However, to achieve a great success in electronic graphic art, proper software must be used. This software begins with the most simplest of kind: MS Paint. MS Paint, also known as Microsoft Paint, is software that has been bloatware (preinstalled on the pc) for the past decade, and thus has been used by millions worldwide. MS Paint has very basic functions, such as straight lines and shape creation, but it does not have more complex functions such as layering or gradient swatches.
Thus, MS Paint is generally dismissed in the professional graphic art world, but it does still hold some value as it provided the foundation for all other graphic art software to stem from. In 2003, Adobe Systems released the Adobe “Creative Suite”, graphic art software released to the general public. Before this the only way you could graphic design on a personal scale would have been through illegally torrenting company software, purchasing the extremely expensive Photoshop 8 (released in 1989) with a private license or purchasing private licenses on extremely expensive software.
The main component of “Creative Suite” was in fact, Adobe Photoshop CS. Photoshop CS was revolutionary as it provided a cheap, personal level of graphic design in which even the most inexperienced laymen could pick it up and start designing. However, as time went on, Photoshop became more and more complex with the addition of several functions such as “rasterization” and “layer masking” or “layer merging” and thus the accessibility of it degraded as the quality increased. Soon however, it began to replace much professional private graphic software, and now it is the most widely used.
Photoshop CS might be compared to the original Photoshop, but it held many differences. Since Photoshop CS could utilize 3d image creation, motion graphics editing and advanced image analysis, it held a much more professional quality of workmanship than the original and thus comparing the original Photoshop to Photoshop CS would be similar in comparing the size of David to Goliath. (“The history of Photoshop”) Photoshop was not the only software that had image modification capabilities.
In 1996, the software GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) was released for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux. This software was in essence what many would call a “knockoff of Photoshop”, but these individuals were wrong. Although it had all of the same functions as Photoshop, GIMP was revolutionary. It was free first off, so individuals did not have to go out to the store and buy a one hundred dollar cd that they then would have to install. This led to a wider demographic using this, including individuals from around the world, thus allowing greater cultural exchange through graphic art.
However, the more important aspect of GIMP would be that it was open source. By being open source, it meant that anyone could take the source code or program of GIMP and modify it to fit their own needs, or even the needs of a specific task. So when new images such as GIF and MPEG came out, GIMP was the first one to be modified to suit their needs. Although GIMP can be considered the little brother of Photoshop, the one who always imitates what Photoshop does, GIMP is infect the innovative little brother of Photoshop. “A Brief History of GIMP” gimp. org).
Graphic art is something that a small proportion of individuals understand to a limited extent, and even fewer understand to mastery. Graphic design is shaping the modern world at the same rate that our media progresses. Through the usage of media and graphic design everything is effected, be it the wallpaper in a hospital waiting room wall, or the logo on a billboard in New Jersey. Graphic art hasn’t revolutionized the world, but rather is constantly in accordance with the progression of the world.
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