Design Analysis

You have spent a great deal of time this summer looking at, and learning about the different aspects of, graphic design. This short essay project will ask you to synthesize some of that learning and use it in order to describe and discuss a particular piece (or pieces) of graphic design. This essay will be comprised of both a formal (visual) analysis, as well as a more research-driven communication analysis.
General descriptions and background What is the piece called? Who made it? What is the background of the designer who created it?
Some personal history and background of the designer; something about his or her upbringing, and something about his or her design “pedigree.” Where did he or she go to school? Undergrad? Grad school? Who taught him or her about design?
Why he or she matters to the discipline: During which era did he or she work? What did he or she do? What projects were significant? Did/does he or she teach? Where? What are some significant things that he or she has done?

Why he or she matters to the discipline: During which era did he or she work? What did he or she do? What projects were significant? Did/does he or she teach? Where? What are some significant things that he or she has done?
If the piece was done by an agency and not a single designer, talk a little about the agency and its history instead. When was it created?
For whom/what was it created? This will likely require a little bit of additional research. It’s good to look up the projects you are analyzing and see what you can learn about them.
Formal analysis: what does the piece look like? What is the visual experience of the piece for the viewer?
Describe the formal aspects of the work using vocabulary that you’ve acquired through the course. Discuss the formal relationships within the piece/pieces. Consider things like: point, line, plane, balance, scale, texture, and think especially about contrast and the relationships between the formal qualities of the different elements in the work(s) you are analyzing.
Be descriptive. Is the piece primarily typographic? Or is it more of a combination of type and image? What is the composition like? What are the elements within the composition? What are the formal characteristics of those elements and how do they relate to each other?

What kind of typefaces are used? Serif? Sans-serif? Something weird? It’s OK if you don’t know the exact font. But you should be able to think about the treatment of the typography in terms of modernist/postmodernist ideas.
Use this as a transition into the communicative analysis of the work. What are the connotative meanings of the different typefaces used? Think about what Helvetica stood for during Modernism (simplicity, clarity, universality, order) and how its connotations are either similar or different now.
Communication analysis

The “signs” that are used (both typographic and image) and what those signs are signifying; For example, in an iPhone ad, a sign might be a woman dancing. Another sign in that same ad could also be the use of a simple, sans-serif typeface. Each of these bears certain denotative meanings as well as connotational meanings. What are those meanings?
How does the use of signs and the creation of meaning make the piece modernist or postmodernist? Provide some evidence from what you’ve read this summer to support your claims. Personal reflection
After learning about this design project and the designer who created it, and after working to analyze it in the context of the topics studied in the class, what connections do you see to the graphic design you see or experience in your daily life? Do you think differently about the UI of an app? Or have you noticed something about the design of posters or packaging?

 

 

Sample Solution

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