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Everything is designed: Why Graphic Design is important in shaping the world around us

by Rebecca Jee
Posted: September 01, 2020

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** This is an updated post**

Graphic Designers have a huge role to play in the way the world around us looks. Have you ever stopped to think about how much of the world around you has been purposefully designed?

Design decision have been made about almost everything around us. Think about it: the textures, shapes, typefaces, colours and materials used in advertising, signage, packaging, and the media we consume convey all sorts of messages that we often don’t even notice on a conscious level.

Let’s take a quick drive to the shops and take a look at the graphic design elements in the world around us;

What are some examples of graphic design?

On your drive, the first thing you might see are billboards on buildings and posters on bus stop shelters. Outdoor advertising needs to be attention grabbing, but not too distracting. It needs to be able to convey its message in milliseconds to a constantly moving audience, so will often use huge font sizes and large images. It might also have a creative element that ties into other advertising from that brand which you might have seen on TV or in a magazine.

Along the way,you might also notice posters for upcoming music gigs taped to the power poles. They use only the most essential words, fluorescent colours and cheap paper.  They will most likely be pulled down or taped over pretty quickly, so they are designed to get their information out as quickly as possible, at a low cost.

Now you've arrived at the shops. As you park, you look at the signs dotted up and down the street. Street signs need to be easy to read, both in daylight and at nighttime. They need to convey information clearly. They need to be consistent, using the same typefaces and colours across a range of signs, so that when you see a parking sign you know exactly what it means and what you are permitted to do in that zone. The colour palette is usually very limited and eye-catching (red, green, yellow, black and white), and the typefaces used are strong with no decorative elements to clutter up the information.

graphic design work

As you head into the supermarket, you notice that everywhere you look is the chain’s branding, with its particular logo, colours and style repeated again and again throughout the shop. Although all the different supermarkets sell basically the same products, you would never be confused about which supermarket chain you were standing in, right? That’s because a lot of planning has gone into designing the layout and to ensuring that all these different elements – from the staffs’ uniforms to the signage in the aisles – confirms to that particular brand.   

You grab your trolley and head through the aisles. As you look at the vast array of packaging in every aisle, you notice that each product has been designed to convey a certain feel. A brand aiming for a premium feel will use elegant typefaces, a dark colour palette and possibly some metallic elements. A brand that wants to imply it is a bargain, on the other hand, will usually use much simpler design elements; a light background, bold typefaces, and bright colours like red and orange. A product that wants you to think it’s good for the environment will often use a brown/kraft paper look, green colours and typefaces with a hand-drawn feel.

A lot of thought, effort and planning goes into packaging design. Read about what it’s like to be a Packaging Designer, and other graphic design jobs.

Packaging designer

When you get home, you stop at the letterbox to pick up your mail. There is a card from a property developer in your mailbox, showing the latest release of upscale apartments for sale in your area. It uses large, heavily styled photos and is printed on matte stock. It feels substantial, communicating something expensive and worth serious consideration.

There is also a catalogue from the local hardware shop, printed on cheap glossy paper and crammed full of photos and prices. It feels flimsy, urgent and as though the information isn’t meant to last longer than a couple of weeks before being out of date.

Graphic design is an important part of our lives

So you can see, even from such a simple exercise, how much of the world around us has been shaped by Graphic Designers. And that’s not even mentioning the other kinds of design that we encounter every day without thinking about it, such as fashion and industrial design.

As a Graphic Designer, you have the tools to shape and influence the world around you with every design choice you make.

Is graphic design a good career choice? 

Graphic design is the perfect career choice for those who are creative, collaborative, innovative, and have a knack for technology.  

There are many different types of jobs within the graphic design industry. As you can see from the above example, graphic design comes in a myriad of different sizes, shapes and forms. And depending on your interest, your career as a Graphic Designer could take you down many different paths.  

How can I become a Graphic Designer? 

Open Colleges offers two online graphic design courses you can undertake which will help you begin your career in the?design industry.

CUA50715 Diploma of Graphic Design 

CUA50715 Graphic Design Pathway Program 

Wondering just where a career in graphic design can take you? Study an online course today with Open Colleges and start imagining the possibilities.




Freelance Writer, Editor, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Musician, Food Consultant, Massage Therapist—you name it, she’s done it all. She loves a creative challenge and has a rock-solid background in working for not-for-profit organisations.

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