In this day and age of mass communication where we live in cities that never sleep, how does a visual communicator make sense of all the mess and messaging that is out there and then present a clear image to the world?
In life how does one make order from all that surrounds (or inundates) us?
How do graphic designers process all the information, statistics and background information along with their own daily life and make sense of it first for themselves, and then again for the public?
Life is chaos. Through self-organization, biological effects of chaos create and maintain life. Life and all that surrounds it is ordered chaos. This is not necessarily a bad thing. More often than not, chaos leads to great thinking. In Paul Feyerabend’s 1993 book, Against Method, he talks about how “from sloppiness and chaos arise the theories on which the growth of knowledge and scientific advance depend.”
Graphic design is defined as the art or profession of using design elements (as typography and images) to convey information or create an effect. Upon deeper analysis, graphic design can be viewed as the art of creating order from chaos. Graphic design takes information (sometimes masses of information), processes and organizes this information, and then gives it back to the world to view in a clear and concise way. Through history, graphic design has attempted to deliver succinct messages, giving the viewer the most important information fast and first.
In more recent history, post-modern graphic design attempted to deliver messages in another way. By deconstructing the typography, words and images, and spending more time with the message, the viewer enjoys a more complex and lasting experience. This style of graphic design attempted to break the classic rules of typography, layout and order. Post-modern and deconstructive design leads to questions about training, intuition and the particular designer’s style. The chaos theory says that chaos is order. Is that true in graphic design? How does this apply to visual communication that may appear chaotic?
My academic design research continues to outline various graphic design techniques, styles, processes and approaches. My interest lies in those designers who seem to be the most successful in these various styles and techniques and their overall outcomes.
I am constantly interested in the chaos theory in science and nature and how those theories can apply to the rules of visual order and chaos in graphic design.
The research of this topic Order from Chaos in Graphic Design is interesting and can be a chaotic process in itself. Recurring themes, words, and phrases repeatedly come to the forefront of my continued research. The term paradigm shift, in technology and culture is one of the most recurring themes of all. Paradigms will continue to shift and graphic designers will continue to educate and reeducate themselves.
The attempt to answer so many questions, only to have new ones continually raised, is the most fascinating part of this research process. It gives my work and research its own organic rhythm of unplanned influences. In the end I hope my students, and my readers will attempt, in their process, to embrace the chaos, whatever it may be, in order to make their life or their art, thoughtful, informed and most importantly, satisfying.
Partially Excerpted from MFA Thesis Order from Chaos in Graphic Design accepted to the ACA-Library at SCAD-Atlanta in November of 2007.