Graphic Design: The Role Of Graphic Designers

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Culture can be defined as ‘the distinctive ideas, customs, social behaviour, products, or way of life of a particular nation, society, people, or period’ (Oxford English Dictionary, 2006). These collective ideas and customs are constantly evolving; we affect it – both knowingly and unknowingly – and our interpretations of events, media, and advertising create new concepts and beliefs, which can effect and change the meaning of culture itself. A huge part of what can affect culture in modern society is the media; whether it is through advertising or newspapers, some accuse the media of manipulating the public into thinking and believing in ideas and opinions that may differ from their own. One such issue is the growing trade in which advertisements…show more content…
Before looking at how graphic design encourages the sexual exploitation of children in our culture, we must first outline what graphic design encompasses. Jobling and Crowley (cited by Barnard, 2005, p. 11) define the functions of graphic design as being mass-produced, inexpensive, available to many, and expresses ideas through word and image. Additionally, ‘Drucker suggests that graphic design points to the ideological values and cultural attitudes of a society’ (Barnard, 2005, p. 15). Therefore, one can assume that not only do graphic designers create imagery based on what the media wants, but they are also grounded by what we, the people, communicate through our consumer habits. Once an object starts to sell, there is no reason to edit how it looks/tastes/functions as the public have deemed it perfectly fine as it is. What influences us into buying a book is the paratext; it is an accessory to the text which includes advertisements, the blurb, dedications, author interviews, and most importantly, the cover (Zimmer, 2013, p. 167). Book covers are a piece of paratext that ‘is crucial in determining how the book is read, if it is read at all’ (Zimmer, 2013, p. 167). Consequently, graphic design must perform a specific function to sell the book - ‘text, image, and layout must inform an identifiable group of people of the nature, tone and approach of the book. They must be attractive or appealing to that group’ (Barnard, 2005, p. 83, italics my own). These two statements negate each other – on the one hand, the book cover should give an indication of what the book is about, on the other hand, if designers need to make book jackets ‘appealing’ then surely they must manipulate what the audience understands from the cover. This creates a false impression of what the inside of the book is about, constructing ideas and images before a reader has even read
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