About the Program: Visual Communication
The Visual Communications program emphasizes design for communication through a process that includes research, analysis, conceptualization, and realization. This process leads to innovative solutions for contemporary design of logos, print and packaging design, and digital media. The objective is to provide design strategies that inform, develop, direct, and demonstrate effectively.
Design Work and Education Options
As a graphic designer you will work on many different types of project work. Logos/identities, brochures, advertisements, websites, packaging, promotional items, forms, posters, job aids, manuals, booklets, labels, presentations, etc. This work will range from creating a nice looking design (creating form) to highly conceptual (provoking thought from your audience or the function of the design). In a secondary school opportunity like here at Henderson County high school, the goal upon graduation is that you have mastered the ability to create strong visual pieces (mastering the form) and have begun to incorporate higher level concepts into your work. Conceptual work involves far more focus on process, sketching, refinement, brainstorming, etc. rather than quickly jumping to the final solution. While many students see high school as the end to their education, we strongly recommend continued study in the field, specifically toward receiving an associate’s and bachelor’s degree. This continued study will further enhance your conceptual, visual, and technical skills and further establish and enhance your portfolio of work.
In addition to your creative and conceptual skills, there is a significant portion of graphic design that is very technical. Computers and software have revolutionized the way we design today and have made designers lives both easier and more complicated. Since these computers and software are constantly being improved, be aware that this field requires you to keep up-to-date on these updates. While the use of software and computers certainly falls into this area, other technical issues are related to setting up the file correctly, using the correct resolution for printing and images, printing techniques (1 color, 2 color, 4 color, off set, silkscreen, varnishes, screens, die cuts, etc.), prepress, etc. You may find that you feel you are not creative and/or struggle with producing conceptual work. This may still be the field for you, but you would want to focus on more technical aspects in this field. Many designers, especially beginning ones, don’t fully understand the options available in printing and how to prepare files correctly for printing. Prepress technicians have this knowledge and are a valuable resource to printers and designers.
About the Field: Graphic Design
Graphic Design is a diverse, dynamic, and creative field. When most people think of this field, they generally relate it to advertising. While advertising is certainly a major area, there are many other options for graphic designers. Employment ranges from adverting agencies, design firms, communications/marketing departments in corporations, magazine/newspaper publishers, printing companies, colleges/universities, working for yourself as a freelance designer, etc. Certainly the most opportunities reside in larger cities, i.e., Chicago, Nashville, Indianapolis, Louisville, etc., but with diligent searching jobs are also available in medium sized cities (like Evansville, Indiana) to small towns. These are a few of the opportunities you may find in the field of graphic design, but this is far from an all inclusive list. Job titles are not absolute and may have different levels of responsibility depending on the place you work, some examples include: junior designer, graphic designer, visual communicator, visual communications specialist, senior graphic designer, art director, creative director, principal, etc.
Visual Communications versus Graphic Design
As listed above there may be some confusion over the terms graphic design and visual communications. Generally, people use them synonymously. Graphic design is a more specific term while visual communications is more generic. A visual communicator could be a graphic or web designer, photographer, etc. or anyone who uses visual means to communicate a thought or idea.
Your Portfolio of Design Work
While this may seem a bit out of order, I wanted to save the most important for last. THE PORTFOLIO of your work whether in school or after you start working in the field is your most important resource. Like your resume, you should always keep you portfolio up-to-date. No matter how much education or experience you have, the portfolio will have a significant impact on the jobs you get. The portfolio should tell your story and showcase your skills and abilities. No marginal work should be included and craftsmanship (how well things are mounted, trimmed, etc.) should be outstanding. It can take many forms—a traditional book with printouts of your work or in digital form as a document or website. Your education at Henderson County high school will be centered on the development of your portfolio. Anything you create from your first day of class to the day you retire from the field is a potential portfolio piece. Approach everything you do as if it were going to go into your portfolio.