Building Blocks to a Semiotic System for Graphic Design

By Steven Skaggs.

Published by The Design Collection

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

As planning of communication, the foundational elements graphic design are semiotic. Yet semiotics has not been taught, to any depth, in graphic design programs. This article is a summation of six semiotic concepts that have recently been developed for graphic designers. The semiotic background that these concepts are based upon is largely Peircean, but the terminology has been translated form Peircean to common graphic design language.

Keywords: Semiotics, Graphic Design, Semantics, Syntactics, Sign, Icon, Index, Symbol, Charles Sanders Peirce, Typography, Visual Language, Visual Communications, Information Theory, Semantic Profile, Functional Matrix, Semiotic Moment, Specificity, Denotation, Connotation, Design Elements

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.31-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1016.520KB).

Prof. Steven Skaggs

Professor of Design, Communication Arts and Design Program Head, Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Poet, typographer, semiotician; author of Logos: The Development of Visual Symbols, Poems From Elsewhere, Co-editor (with Katie Salen) of ZED4: Semiotics Pedagogy and Practice. Designer of the typeface Rieven offered by Delve Foundry, Veer (and others) in 2010. Current research includes the subject of this presentation, laying a semiotic foundation for graphic design, aesthetics, typeface design and poetry. Calligraphic fine art works are included in the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry (Miami), the Klingspor Museum (Offenbach-Frankfurt Germany), and Die Akademie für Kunst, Berlin.


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