Critical Frameworks for Graphic Design: Graphic Design and Visual Culture

By Michèle-Anne Dauppe.

Published by The Design Collection

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

The paper considers an approach to the study of graphic design which addresses the expanding nature of graphic design in the 21st century and the purposeful application of theory to the subject of graphic design. In recent years graphic design has expanded its domain from the world of print culture (e.g. books, posters) into what is sometimes called screen culture. Everything from a mobile phone to a display in an airport lounge to the A.T.M. carries graphic design. It has become ever more ubiquitous, forming part of the visual landscape. As the subject extends its range it is appropriate to ask: how might we approach the study of graphic design in ways which account for the context of screen culture as well as print culture? Graphic design as has long been recognised is relatively under-theorised. The paper takes account of the history of interventions and debates regarding the relationship of graphic design with theory. This paper positions itself within this tradition of questioning how best to approach the theory/practice relationship, and explores how we might usefully position graphic design within a framework of visual culture. Visual culture as a discipline is relatively young but has had a significant impact on theoretical approaches to the study of culture. Its range is broad “from oil painting to television to the Internet” (Mirzoeff,1999,p.3) and interdisciplinary. Its attention to the historical conventions of visual communication, technologies of vision, ways of looking and contexts for engaging with the visual all make it potentially highly relevant and meaningful for graphic design. In addition to discussing the relationship between visual cultural theory and graphic design the paper contributes to a better understanding by exploring its relevance through an example.

Keywords: Graphic Design, Theory, Visual Culture, Design History, Cultural Studies, Material Culture, Poster, Viewer, Context, Media, Visuality

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.489-498. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 929.024KB).

Michèle-Anne Dauppe

Associate Head of School, School of Art Design and Media, Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK

Michèle-Anne Dauppe is Associate Head of the School of Art Design and Media at the University of Portsmouth,UK. Michèle-Anne is an experienced teacher and lecturer in both theory and practice for Communication Design, Digital Media, and Visual Culture, with experience of supervision of research at BA, MA and Phd level. Her research interests include: critical frameworks for graphic design, visual culture and technology, research methods for creative practice. Michèle-Anne’s record of publication shows that she took an active role in helping establish a critical discourse for graphic design in journals such as Eye which pioneered a new form of design criticism as well as being involved in debates about new and emerging media.


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