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Lauren Williamson

Graphic Design

Graphic Design is a dynamic, living, breathing entity. I imagine it soaking up the world
around it, finding life in its intricacies. I began to take note of Design around high school. I wrote
an essay my senior year on commercialization, relating it to a “never-ending hurricane… [that]
constantly pummels the defenses of my home.” It was around then that I realized how
omnipresent and powerful Design is in the modern world, perpetuating culture’s infatuation with
“things.” Why would I want to contribute to the world’s empty obsession? The truth is, I don’t.
And yet there is still this piece of me that is pulled in by the beauty, by the possibilities, by the
freedom offered in Design. It’s a constantly-changing, culture-shaping, problem-solving field
that cannot be defined as one field. I don’t think that Graphic Design can be put into a box like
Nursing, Psychology, or Accounting. Rather, Graphic Design is in all the boxes. It’s like the
paper in the box that says “Thanks for buying this product! This is how you use it!” Without
good Design, we’d all just be wanderers (I was going to say lost but there’s no such thing); we
would be without definition, walking around in a blurry world. So Graphic Design is more than
just a tool that greedy businessmen use to make a profit, it’s a multi-faceted creative outlet that
takes artistic expression and turns it into a vernacular visual communication; it’s a representation
of the interdependence of mankind – it is not bound by time but rather enriched by it; it coexists
with technology while also pushing its boundaries; it delves into the recesses of society and
reckons with them.
In the Graphic Design History text book (nerd!) the authors talk about the large role that a
designer plays in subconsciously shaping the cultural development of values and norms of a
society. In this largely globalized age, these efforts play into a global identity. They say that
designers help shape the “social construction of reality” (page). What power for something that
culturally is appreciated then quickly forgotten! I’d love to see the psychology behind the way
that Design seeps into the subconscious and in turn affects our actions or decisions we make in
the future. What would happen if we were isolated from all advertisements then placed in a
Walmart, what would we buy?
UTC Art focuses not only on the technical skills of learning the programs, but also
teaches the art of craft, what makes my art mine, what are the debates and tensions within art,
how can I fit into or intentionally break the title “artist.” UTC Art treats the designer as a Creator
instead of a Generator. I didn’t even realize I wanted a program like this until now. I would have
been perfectly happy in the other schools sitting in a class learning how InDesign works, but
UTC’s art program has grown me in ways I would never have guessed. I thought that when I
decided to go into Art and take the creative path that I would be sacrificing my intellectual side
who loves science experiments and learning weird facts and reading books. I have discovered,
however, that I am still challenged intellectually in the Art Department in the same way and
maybe even more than if I had gone into a specialized major such as Biology. And it suits me so
well because I never was the type of student who would settle on a subject as my favorite. If I
had a good teacher and I was learning, then I enjoyed the class. Now, I find myself sitting in my
Honors Global Humanitarianism class discussing about the ethics of portrait photography which
we had just discussed in Photography in the last week. I find that Graphic Design, Art itself,
cannot be bound by the labels we use to taxonimize society. It will always be a free entity that
inhales and exhales just like me.