A History of Expression

Let’s think back to the origin of graphic design. Considering the computer has only been around since the 1940s, the idea of using images to convey a message had to have started somewhere else. In fact, the origin of graphic design can be traced back to 30,000 BCE when hundreds of images of animals were carved into walls of Chauvet Cave, located in the south of France, by prehistoric social groups.

Similar designs were discovered dating back to 14,000 BCE and designs were left by hunters in the Bhimbetka rock shelters in India before 7,000 BCE. These carvings all placed an emphasis on typography and the foundations for graphic design were further set when combined with writing (which began by the 4th millennium BCE).

Graphics (a greek word originating from graphikos) are “visual statements committed to a surface, such as a wall, canvas, computer screen, paper, stone, even to the landscape itself”. Historically graphics have been used in rock and cave art, writing, books, calligraphy, playing cards, art (indigenous and modern), miniatures, paintings, and pottery. In a more modern sense, Graphic design is “the art or profession of combining text, pictures, and ideas in advertisements, publications, or websites”. This includes marketing, signage, logos, and trademarks.  

Graphic Design Today

Graphic design, also known as ‘communication design’ is the expertise and application of planning and distributing ideas and experiences with visual and textual content. Its form can be physical, virtual or AI and will often include a combination of images, words or graphics. Its purposes are varied ranging from commercial, to educational, cultural or political.

By definition, graphic design is problem-solving to visually communicate using one or more formats of design such as typography, photography, and illustration. If it seems like a very open-ended definition, that’s because it is. Graphic design encompasses many outlets of visual communication and can be as simple as designing a unique typeface or as complex as combining text, shapes, and graphics into a web page layout. We recognize the most important distinction as the difference between graphic design as a commercial art and graphic design as a fine art. Graphic design as a commercial art is about successfully conveying messages to a target audience. Design as a fine art is more focused on creative interpretation.

It is important to have an understanding of the elements that make up design. When used together or in juxtaposition the elements are combined to create designs:

  • Color
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Texture
  • Space
  • Form
  • Size


Using these elements alongside the principals of design (which include balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, repetition, proportion, rhythm, variety and unity) is essential to crafting visually enticing designs, and a good designer understands how and when to incorporate both elements and principals in their decision making.

Graphic Design for Social Media Marketing

In today’s business landscape, graphic design is used by companies to promote and sell products. They do this through marketing, advertising, website design, and the utilization of key company assets such as Logos, Letterheads, and Presentations. When applied, graphic design helps businesses to develop an identity through branding and messaging.

Looking to have your company’s branding, marketing and advertising efforts supported with strong graphic design? Let’s talk! 

Hint: Psychology Plays a Role.

Find Out Why You’re Attracted to, or Repelled by, Color and Light

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Dayna Young

Written by Dayna Young More by this author Arrow