[Re]Vision: The Role of Graphic Design[ers]…

By Samantha Lawrie.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores the role of graphic designers as facilitators of societal well-being, stewards of community values, and agents of spiritual growth. Graphic design is a broad practice that intersects all areas of visual communication, and is primarily concerned with the interpretation, creation, and transmission of images, symbols, and stories. As a discipline, graphic design traces a history from the caves of Lascaux to the most recent web portal. Philosophically, the discipline came into its own between World War I and World War II as European designers sought social healing through the application of a rational, scientific objectivity to human communications. Current concerns focus on the development of sustainable design practices and human-centered, as opposed to commerce-centered, design strategies.
Within this context it is my position that the discipline of graphic design requires a metaphorical revision. Graphic design may represent a current evolutionary state of a spiritual tradition that encompasses the interpretation and communication of information, the mastery of symbol-making and the maintenance of balanced human and ecological relationships: a tradition recognized as shamanism. This paper will compare the roles of shaman and graphic designer and introduce evidence that, through the exploration of a new metaphor, the discipline has the potential to effect significant social and spiritual change.

Keywords: Graphic Design, Social Values, Meaning, Language, Embodiment

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.291-298. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.125MB).

Samantha Lawrie

Associate Professor, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA


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