As the world continues to evolve, so do the responsibilities of our Graphic Designers. Graphic design exists to facilitate communication. And as the lines of communication diverge and expand, so must our definition of graphic design. Being a graphic designer also means being a student of culture and technology. It means being a contributor to the global dialogue. And it means respecting the influential importance of graphic design while becoming a responsible citizen of the world.
I encourage aspiring designers to become responsive to new trends and technology. I teach fundamental design principles and provide knowledge of current print, web and social media marketing trends, but I encourage further exploration in the everyday lines of communication. We, as designers, must be able to continue to educate ourselves if we expect to stay relevant in the business of creativity. Technology moves fast, and we must move with it. As an art director and as an instructor, I encourage independent and collective study of the tools of today’s design trade. I also foster environments for aspiring designers to balance independent study with group interaction—producing good self-starters and strong links to creative community. I believe it is important for aspiring designers to be able to work collaboratively to support the advancement of the field and maintain the standards set by the forebearers of modern design. Today’s graphic design is often the product of more than one designer or production artist, and having an open dialogue motivates our progression.
I expect aspiring designers to become effective writers and orators. Being able to clearly express one’s creative vision before it is materialized is evermore crucial. Today’s graphic design is often a collaborative effort involving writers, photographers, illustrators, editors, programmers, printers, strategists, marketing managers, and so many others. Graphic designers need to be well versed in conveying ideas through more than just visuals. We, as designers, need to be able to speak about design in today’s business lexicon. I challenge aspiring designers to use their skills and talents to make positive contributions to humankind. I believe that we, as designers, should not just be complacent with adding more content, but we should instead aspire to make valuable contributions to our visual environment. We are bombarded with words and images everyday, but a great designer will stand out when he or she succeeds in making that all-important connection with his or her audience. I hope to influence aspiring designers become earnest observers and appreciators of the world. Designers should have knowledge of design and art history as well as be connoisseurs of current trends. We live and consume in a multifaceted society, so staying competitive means understanding where we have come from, past success and past failure and current social relativity.
When an aspiring designer finally reaches into the virtual and physical realms with a deliberate hand, seeks ways to improve it, and is proud of the mark that they have made, then I have accomplished my duties as educator.
—Sheri F. Selph