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Visual Communication refers to the technique of using visual elements such as text, images, GIFs, etc., to convey ideas and information. It combines the principles of communication design by crafting a message to enlighten, entertain or engage the audience and graphic design by using design principles to convey the message in a crisp and engaging manner. Effective visual communication uses the combination of suitable elements such as text, shape, and images to convey a meaningful message to the audience.
Some common elements of visual communications include:
The origin of visual communication can be traced to antiquity. Ancient cave paintings are perhaps the earliest form of visual communication which speak volumes about the society during that time. The advent of pictograms around the 4th millennium BC was also an early form of visual communication. Pictograms depicted physical objects that humans used to share ideas, convey feelings or ask questions. The emergence of printing with woodblocks around the 7th century AD opened floodgates for the development of visual communication as it allowed the printed word and symbols to be reproduced, shared and preserved like never before.
Visuals can aid understanding of the message, which cannot be made possible by texts alone. They can help bridge the gap between the message's meaning and words, especially when its audience comes with diverse needs and backgrounds.
Unlike text, visual communication makes the message more engaging and attractive, which helps in comprehending information quickly.
You can use visual communication to:
Visual communication is an element of communication design. A Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Design is a pathway to a career in visual communication. Some institutes even offer a three-year undergraduate degree in visual communication. Nevertheless, a four-year degree in communication design is highly recommended as visual communication is a subset of communication design careers and gives you more career options to choose from.
The minimum eligibility for this four-year undergraduate program is 10+2 with an aggregate of 50% marks from a recognised board. Some institutes require aspirants to clear an entrance test that judges candidates on basic design skills, visual logic, knowledge of colour psychology, etc. Coursework in visual communication acquaints students with illustration, animation, information graphics, photography, visual culture, typography etc. Moreover, practical components such as masterclasses, projects, assignments, case studies and internships strengthen the portfolio and pave the way for the best careers in visual communication.
Some of the sought-after visual communication career opportunities include
The job of an illustrator involves producing drawings and artwork to represent a concept. Nowadays, illustrators use several digital tools, such as Adobe Illustrator, to design a newspaper, magazine cover, social media posts, brochures, and more. They take a brief from clients to understand the requirements of a project and submit several sketches for approval. Illustrators work for creative agencies, media houses, production houses, publishing houses, advertising agencies, or freelance in their individual capacity.
Photojournalism is a specialised field in journalism. A photojournalist uses images, including photos and video, to tell a story. They capture images of places, people and events to narrate a news story. Pictures make news-story grab attention and make understanding the news story easier and more impactful to its audience. Photojournalists also edit their artwork and often convert them into a digital format for online use. Often, headlines and captions accompany their artwork.
3. Video Editor
A video editor reviews pre recorded footage and edits its content to convey a message visually. He/She rearranges video footage or combines different clips to enable storytelling via video. In addition to images, a powerful video uses other elements, such as dialogue and sound effects, to enhance the message. The role of a video editor combines storytelling skills and experience with video editing software to meet the expectations for the project. These professionals often work in media and entertainment houses, creative agencies, advertising agencies and marketing.
4. Web designer
The role of a web designer involves designing and developing websites using programming and design skills. A web designer is responsible for all the visual elements of a website, including the layout, typography, graphics and images. Their goal is to design a visually appealing and user-friendly website that attracts traffic. Web designers work closely with developers to ensure an optimal user experience for the website.
5. Graphic designer
A graphic designer conceptualises and designs visual elements to communicate a message. Graphic designing requires proficiency in various design software to create logos, advertisements, social media posts, brochures, etc. Graphic designers have sound knowledge of colour theory, typography and design layout. They work closely with their clients to understand their brand and implement it through their artwork.
6. Communications/Public Relations Manager
A communications manager is the custodian of the company's reputation. Communications or public relations professionals identify opportunities to maximise the company's visibility through media opportunities, events and marketing campaigns. They also conceptualise promotional content for a company, such as press releases, websites and newsletters. Communication professionals often use good visual communication skills to design and produce unique marketing materials, such as an eye-catching logo and visually appealing newsletters.
7. Social Media Manager
A Social Media Manager oversees the company's digital presence, especially on social media platforms. They brainstorm content and work closely with design professionals to churn out social media posts and ensure they generate maximum views, shares, likes, etc. A Social media manager possesses strong analytical skills to measure social media metrics. He/She works closely with sales and public relations professionals to manage the company’s reputation and generate leads to drive revenue for the business.
8. Art Director
An Art director is in charge of the overall design of a project. He/She provides input on the artwork, images and layout and explores ways to represent a concept visually and implement a project’s vision with a team of designers. Art Directors work in film, television, magazines, gaming and advertising. Their role involves understanding the project, brainstorming design ideas with their team and presenting their recommendations to clients for final approval.
9. Multimedia Producer
A multimedia producer researches, plans, produces and directs a multimedia story. He/She oversees a team of designers, light and sound technicians, scriptwriters and photographers to ensure that the final story appeals to his audience and communicates its message effectively. He/She makes editorial decisions regarding the assembly of information, illustration and content and manages the multimedia production, including editing and final documentation.
10. Instructional Designer
An instructional designer creates the coursework and design curriculum, conceptualises training materials such as student guides and restructures the content of the courses. He/She uses theory and research processes to design training materials that produce good learning outcomes for his audience. They also train educators to deliver lessons effectively and implement the feedback from the audience into their learning material. Instructional designers work in academic institutions, edtech companies, training and development departments of multinational companies and non-governmental organisations.
It is recommended that you start early on to maximise your prospects in this field. Follow these steps after completing 10+2 from a recognised board.
Know your career goals
There is no dearth of career opportunities in visual communication. It is recommended to know your career goal beforehand and then choose a suitable program accordingly. However, if you are unsure of your career goal, enrol in workshops such as graphic design, advertising and video editing, which acquaint you with various spheres of visual communication and help you zero in on a suitable career option.
Research different programs
Several colleges and universities offer courses in visual communications. Take your time researching various visual communications programs and choose one that meets your expectations and requirements. Make a checklist of multiple factors, such as cost, location, course offerings and financial aid. Read through the course outline of various programs and thoroughly understand eligibility requirements for different colleges. Apply to all relevant colleges to maximise your chances of getting through at least one of them.
Complete an internship
Internships are a must for a visual communications degree. They offer an insight into how the industry works, equip you with practical experience and strengthen your portfolio. Apply for internships in your few areas of interest, such as graphic design, website development, etc., to grow your skills in that area. An internship also helps you finally decide your final career path based on your interest and expertise.
Build your network
While completing a visual communications program, start building a strong professional network. Seek career guidance in visual communication from your faculty, peers and senior professionals. Attend industry events, seminars and symposiums to make connections that can lead to professional references for several job opportunities in this field.
In this era of information, Visual communication helps companies to stand out from others and is the key to strengthening the relationship with consumers and accelerating their brand development process. Visual communication helps attract an audience, combat challenges like user retention and upgrade the customer experience for companies. A Communication Design course equips you with the necessary skills and tools in the discipline, besides opening a plethora of career opportunities in visual communication. The sky's the limit for visual communication professionals who stay abreast with the latest trends, upgrade their skills, and grow their professional network!
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