What is Graphic Design?

BA (Hons) Graphic Design | Major Project

‘What is Graphic Design?’ is an animation I created that aims to inform people what Graphic Design is, in a light-hearted way. It does this by poking fun at all the ways it can be used, while also showing how it’s all around us. Showing that Graphic Design is a powerful tool.

With this being my final project as a student, I thought what better theme to give myself than ‘Graphic Design’ itself?

Understanding Graphic Design

Since Graphic Design is so broad and can be used to do almost anything, I had to take a step back and look at what the core purposes of Graphic Design are.

I then went on to document all the places Graphic Design is seen, taking a trip to London and taking pictures of anything containing Graphic Design. Needless to say, it’s all around us.

Two Paths

With a good understanding of all of Graphic Design’s uses and everywhere it’s seen, I decided to explore two paths. “What if Graphic Design was self-aware?” & “What if Graphic Design didn’t exist?” Both of which resulted in really interesting visuals.

What if Graphic Design was Self-Aware?

For this path I explored the idea of honesty / attention. With things like billboards and posters yelling for your attention, and food packaging trying to convince you it’s better than the other item next to it.

What if Graphic Design Didn't Exist?

For this path I looked around me and tried to answer the question “What if that didn’t have Graphic Design?”. Although this resulted in a lot of interesting visuals, it definitely felt like this path was so broad that it asked more questions than it answered.

The Questionnaire

So, I had these two paths, both with the potential for really interesting outcomes, but I still didn’t know how I could bring them together. That’s when I had the thought of sending out a survey to the entire course of Graphic Design across all three years. Perhaps in asking what Graphic Design is to them, I might get some insight on where to go next.

After getting the results back, it was really interesting to look at the variety of answers people gave. The three questions that stood out to me the most were questions, 3, 6, and 7 though. With the students saying Graphic Design was ‘broader than they originally thought’, and that if they’re asked what they’re studying, over half the time they had to explain what Graphic Design was to that person. I knew that making an animation on “What is Graphic Design?” for people who might not know, was the way to go.

Graphic Design is Power

With the last question on the survey asking the students what three words they thought best describes Graphic Design, they all kind of had a similar theme to them. Saying things like “Creativity”, “Freedom”, “Diversity”, “Inspired”, “Influence”, & “Communication” for example. These were all things that Graphic Design can do, so I thought what does that make Graphic Design itself? Well Graphic Design itself is a tool, a tool that gives you a lot of power to do all these different things. And so, I came up with the phrase “Graphic Design is Power”.


I knew I wanted to create an animation that told people what Graphic Design was in a light-hearted way, and I also knew I wanted a way to incorporate those two paths into the animation as well. The tricky part was fitting them together. But when I figured out I could show what Graphic Design is, by showing all the different examples of where it is and what it can do, it all clicked into place.

Final Drawings

After I had a final storyboard I was happy with, I drew out all the different scenes by hand and scanned them all in. Trying a new style of animation, I had never done before.