This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

How Graphic Designers look at structure, not content

Since I've been a Graphic Designer all of my life, it wasn't until I started teaching it that I realized how differently Graphic Designers view the world around them. They see structure before they see content. Please let me explain.

Structure is how a particular thing is put together. That is, if it's a magazine page, a poster, a movie, or a book. Content is what it's about. That is, if the magazine page is about a celebrity, or a poster is about doughnuts, or a movie is about kangaroos, or a book is about dachshunds. And so, for Graphic Designers, they tend to not pay attention too much to content. Structure is just about invisible to anyone who isn't a Graphic Designer, and that's how it's supposed to be.

If you're not a Graphic Designer, a poster for blue jeans should be about blue jeans. That is, you should see blue jeans, and quite possibly want to buy those bluejeans. If you're looking at the font, or how the photo, or drawing, was created, or how the images are juxtaposed on the page, you're a Graphic Designer. You probably either missed the meaning for the poster, or you just don't care. Bluejeans, kangaroos, the content is all the same to Graphic Designers. They're wondering things like "Why would they use Helvetica?" or "Isn't the contrast poor?" or "What a great choice of colors!"

I haven't met too many people in my life who see structure before content. A poster of doughnuts makes most people hungry for doughnuts. Graphic Designers notice that the edge of the logo is tucked under one of the doughnuts, and that the font has a nice little drop shadow on it. Doughnuts? What doughnuts?

If you're seeing content, and structure really makes no sense to you, congratulations, you're perfectly normal. If you're seeing structure, you're a Graphic Designer. If your business card says Graphic Designer on it, and you're not seeing structure, you need to find a different job.

By the way, the structure of the drawing above is cartoon done in Adobe Illustrator with a very simple choice of colors. The content is a lady talking on the phone.