Commercial Art

Today I completed a graphic design project which:

fulfills the stated objectives of the marketing campaign strategy,
is an innovative, creative approach to the project specifications,
contains elements known to appeal to the target demographic,
ties in well with other brand-identity statements,
looks as if it's designed by a competent professional,
is eye-catching and dynamic,

and was completed ahead of time, within budget, and with the resources provided.

This is what I do. Every workday, pretty much. Over and over again: brainstorming, creating, and delivering.

I often encounter individuals who have difficulty understanding that Graphic Design is fundamentally results-oriented and process-based and not just "playing in Photoshop" or "making things look pretty." (I do attempt to explain from time to time, and this brief essay is one such effort.)

Way back in the day, when I first started out in college, my goal was the "Associate of Arts Degree in Commercial Art." This distinguished the course studies from the "Fine Arts" focus and degree program. Drawing I, Color Theory and Art History were required for all in the Art department; but from the beginning it was clear that Commercial Art students were to focus on learning the skills that would allow us make a living with our talent in a wider field than selling artwork in a gallery. With the increasing emphasis on using design software and desktop publishing, the name of the program changed during my second year and I graduated with an "Associate of Science Degree in Graphic Design." So I've long approached the world of design with the understanding that what I do is both an art and a science.

Like many other designers, I will sometimes create things (for myself and others) simply for the enjoyment of artistic expression, or the desire to have the sorts of images which delight my eyes brought to life. And I may refer to some of these works as graphic design. But when it's something I'm getting paid to produce, there needs to be a focus on goals, strategy, and process. And that, to me, is the responsible and professional approach to commercial art.