Chapter 1: What is Design?

Making Visuals & Type Play Nice in Space

What is Design? White Space is not Your Enemy Ch. 1

Chapter Outline

  • Form follows function in design
  • Design drives visual culture
  • Graphic design communicates
  • Computers democratized graphic design
  • The WWW changed all the rules
  • Graphic design is planned
  • Make pictures & words work together in space
  • Know the rules. Break the rules if you have a reason.
  • Try this

Keywords | Vocabulary

  • Design
  • Negative space

“Excuse me, what is design?” The student who timidly asked that question on the first day of class in News Design inspired this chapter. In our ideal beginner’s curriculum, students begin with a working definition of graphic design.

Key Student Takeaways

  1. Graphic design refers to a plan for organizing visual objects in space (usually a two-dimensional plane such as paper or screen).
  2. The function of graphic design is to communicate messages visually.
  3. Good graphic design does four things:
  • It captures attention.
  • It controls the eye’s movement across the page or screen.
  • It conveys information.
  • It evokes emotion.
  1. The three building blocks of graphic design are visuals, typography and negative space.
  2. Learn the rules for combining visuals, typography and negative space into functional visual communication before taking creative license to break the rules.

Quiz Questions

The 5-minute Motivation to Read Quiz

Share three things you learned from the reading. Be specific.

Short Answer Quiz Questions

Define “graphic design.”

What is the function of graphic design?

Good graphic design does four things. List the four things in order.

What are the three building blocks for graphic design and layout?

What do the authors mean when they write: “Know the rules. Break the rules if you have a reason”?

Multiple Choice Quiz Questions

Graphic design refers to:

  1. The sandbox in which visuals and typography play
  2. A branch of philosophy
  3. The aesthetic function of visual form
  4. Planning the organization of visual objects on paper or screen

The function of graphic design is to:

  1. Engineer visual culture
  2. Communicate messages visually
  3. Make fine art functional
  4. Organize the rules of fine art forms

The three building blocks of graphic design are:

  1. History, aesthetics and culture
  2. Visuals, typography and negative space
  3. Information, emotion and flow
  4. Industry, art and philosophy

Good graphic design does what four things?

  1. Captures attention, controls eye movement, conveys information and evokes emotion
  2. Follows function, drives visual culture, engineers messages and democratizes art
  3. Arranges visuals, organizes type, communicates messages and creates community
  4. Captures attention, attracts interest, creates desire and generates action