Our five-pronged approach focuses on your individual strengths to develop your unique qualities towards making you an exemplary pi- designer.
Table of contents
Visual communication is a vast field of communication that employs a diverse range of visually transmittable mediums to send and receive ideas, thoughts, feelings and experiences. The history of visual communication dates back to when the first humans opened their eyes and if the theory of evolution is considered, then even before. The business industry’s adaptation of the field has led to its cementation as an essential aspect of branding, marketing, pitching ideas to investors and the like. With the advent of social media, visual communication is a more intimately convertible aspect of our identities with instances in our lives being monetized as the rate of a breath. In such an environment, what are the responsibilities of a future designer in this field? How and to what extent does visual communication translate into full fledged careers and in what ways can it be manifested for more secure jobs in the future?
The order in which elements are arranged on a plane surface affects the experience of their visual consumption. Following visual design standards can make your designs more palatable and identifiable. And strategically breaking set standards can create adventure.
Colours advance and recede, pop and fade, create interest or funnel concentration. Having darker colours in the foreground for example can give your design more stability.
This element defines the layout, the weight, the balance and the conversation the viewer will have with your design.
Texture provides visual traction, sensation and versatility to your designs.
Pattern, Rhythm and Flow:
In an increasingly phygital world, a 2D surface can be approached with the fundamentals of interior design space. Pattern, rhythm and flow all contribute to making a design interesting, navigable and memorable.
The core principles of visual communication are:
Proximity: Grouping or isolating forms, text and other elements can be handled whilst keeping in mind this crucial principle that helps the mind organize and make sense of visual structures.
Continuity: This principle contributes to a sense of harmony, unity and flow within the design. Over the course of multiple layers, sub-products and pages, effective use of the language of continuity can contribute to brand communication and immersive experience building, consistency of standards and quality and heuristic beauty.
Closure: Closure demarcates and separates. It can signal a standstill, a place of rest or a warning.
Symmetry: Symmetry builds balance, a fundamental unity and meaningfulness in a visual context. Symmetry adds to a level of formality, structure and
Similarity/Juxtaposition: Both rules work in tandem through presence and absence and can be used to create a visual play that speaks to the viewer’s intuition and situational awareness.
Figure/Ground Relation: The relationship between the figures on a plane can be renegotiated through the foreground, horizon line and background placement and works to add depth and layers to your design.
Perspective Framing: The human body is not independent of the effects of perspective. Foreshortening and multipoint framing allows for greater nuance and realism in your designs.
The mediums of visual communication can vary and often intermingle.
Signs: The semiotic relationships between symbols, icons and objects and their culturally and experientially derived meanings, interpretations and deductions as posited by Saussure and Pierce.
Typography: Words exist in an ekphrastic, and symbiotic relation with visuals and at the same time can become sites of visual communication or gestures in their own right, with new fonts being designed everyday.
Drawing: This traditional method of working out ideas is used today to build mockups, sketches and storyboards when visuals are in their initial stages.
Graphic Design: With the use of print and digitization, ideas are rendered in high quality, machine lead precision and with the added advantage of duplicability.
Illustration: This method of communication can be both digital and hand-crafted. India’s immense art and crafts sector is a living legacy that’s largely expressed through illustration.
Industrial Design: Mass production of products requires visually rendered design and production plans and this is where blueprints and the like come in.
Advertising: Print (analogical displays) or digital, sponsored or self marketed advertisements build a visual dialogue through audio-video, imagery and symbolism to target markets or openly declare brand story and standards to pull new ones. Companies like Amul have been using the current trend of Brand Standing for the past many decades and can be called a forerunner and leader in the same.
Animation: Animation houses like Disney, Pixar, and Studio Ghibli stand testament to the immersivity of visual communication and how it can be used responsibly to shape future generations along with other tools like VFX and game design which even UNESCO has supported.
“Eyes...They speak all languages.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
In an industry where Dostoyevsky’s capitalism seems to be reigning supreme, we have arrived at the capitalisation of emotions to such an extent that individual decisions are led by empirical data given to them on screens and not even in real spaces anymore. We believe we gather more information about each other, about brands and products, about nations, based on the information we are fed.
The culture remains visual, but the “reading” of the visuals seems to have become more totalitarian and majoritarian. Whilst design depends on scalability the essence of what we are scaling and to whom remains important to keep in mind as does the space left for “choice”, “reversibility” and “opposition” i.e. competition.
In John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, 1972, Berger speaks of how our surroundings shape and color the atmosphere within our minds and this holds true today with the ecosystems of choice that we have between reality and virtual reality.
Visual communication has the power to brainwash or to educate. Just as the “death of the author” in Roland Barthes, room for all frames of reference is a must alongside the intended but not dominant intention of the designer.
The India of our history was built on a rise up from the shadows and the empty voiceless spaces and to push back our minorities into these spaces in preference for a dominant, mainstream culture is a betrayal of our essence and a grim reminder of what can be lost as was lost in partition.
This is the power and the importance of visual communication that engages and applies consistency, cultural memory, archetypes and current fads and trends into recipes of exchange. It may often feel like a game, but sadly, it is far from being one.
If you haven’t yet seen Cunk on Earth, then the visual above should simplify the progression of visual design over the past few centennials. Although the picture above hardly does justice to a universal perspective, through research and archeological findings we are constantly adding to the timeline.
Visual Communication Strategies
The following values if integrated with one’s visual communication mission, can help to form a sound strategy for your project:
Design for Impact: Depending on a smart use of visual hierarchy and cognitive load, your reader can process what you have to say in as little as 1/10th of a second. Visual communication is intrinsically fast, direct and emphatic so it's hard to go wrong unless one works in a vacuum.
Design for Emotion: Interaction design principles incorporate the humane side of technology to create fulfilling experiences through engagement with visually delivered interfaces like GIFs, microinteractions and infographics that speak to user preferences, behavior and exceed expectations in innovative ways.
Predictability: Humans value familiarity and nostalgia as they elicit signals of comfort, continuity and safety to the brain. This is why music is so soothing. Consistency in the world of updates is a nuanced challenge but one that is not impossible to achieve.
Context: The cultural context, political climate, ongoing trends, economy, security and health of a nation color the context in which messages are sent and received. “The Nirbhaya Effect” is a study of the changes in the ways visual narratives have been produced since the brutal incident. Brandstand is a trend that is closely related to context.
Ekphrasis: Text and visuals are a marriage that can either make or break even the best of ideas. The SEO of every Instagram post today is ekphrastic in nature and a good part of its success depends on the ironic or complementary relation between the caption and the image posted.
Nudge: Human behavior has both rational and irrational aspects. Nudge theory works on the latter and is considered quite controversial and also, quite effective.
Inception: Ideas are immortal. Visual design can be a carrier of ideas, concepts and ideology as much as it can be a representation of reality. Better worlds, dystopias, myths, propaganda, all can be communicated to change people’s perception about products and people alike.
Inclusivity: Whilst visual communication design is not inclusive communication design, its scope within the visual impairment sphere is (perhaps still too slowly) being given its due as is its importance in race theory and gender narratives.
Click here to read more about visual communication strategies.
There always have been emotions, experiences and situations for which there are no words in any language. But the universal language is visual. Ephemeral and evocative, visual language is a container for mass subjectivity, both public and personal.
Social media today is just this, both public and personalized. Individual identity and colossal entity. In the age of the influencer, visual communication precedes brand value. It is both medium and process. An unraveling story, with each post turning over a new leaf, a new episode in the saga or the imagined saga of a person’s life. A huge following today can be nudged into buying products by influencers and be turned against brands with the click of a button.
Social Media also integrates mainstream, popular media, pop culture, is a sign of the times, the news and the prediction. Visual communication done on the interweb can thus be a homage, the reframing of history, the art of representation, a call out or a call to action and, a warning.
From flatlays to news of the latest disaster, platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. can thus be considered the mediums that carry visual communication to the masses.
Seeing depends on knowledge /
And knowledge, of course, on your college /
But when you are erudite and wise /
What matters is to use your eyes.
- Ernst Gombrich
Viscom courses come in different shapes and sizes. They have different names and because Visual Communication is a vast field, the course names and subject vary:
- Web/Application Design
- Brand Identity
- Digital Marketing & Storytelling
- Information Design
- Typography Design
- Graphic Design
- Fashion Communication
- Digital Fashion
- Game Design
- Digital Twin Engineering
Are just some of the typical courses that are immersed in visual communication.
Art of the Flaneur
People-watching or observation is a key aspect of the live research for a visual designer. Whilst we are encouraged to do this for work, one of the key reasons we became designers in the first place could be directly related to the fact that we have a visual love for lived realities and appreciate the uniqueness of every individual. Flaneurs are acutely aware that time and situations will never recur the same way and people-watching is not work for them, it's like breathing, a lifestyle. For a designer this is crucial to understand to get over procrastination and allow their subconscious brain to remind them what stands out in their daily walk or errands to the grocers for example.
All it takes is a humble, enthusiastic curiosity and reflective capacity to be present and an outsider in life’s everyday foibles.
In a world where everyone wants to occupy posterity, record keeping is soon to become the area where even further progress will be made in Visual Communication. The building of repositories, journals, memoirs and the like are soon to become only further formalized, mechanized, retrievable and digitalised. Reading the trends of nostalgia and relational management in an increasingly digitally conspicuous world, the inner vortex of each individual’s lived experience is waiting to be addressed and expressed in more inventive ways.
On Style & Originality
Nothing is original except everyone. If we are all secure enough and present enough to draw from a collection of our own lived experiences, cultural heritage, knowledge, learned skills and passions, we inevitably emerge as mukhtalif. Practicing through reproduction is key to gaining technical skill but paying homage, due credit and being transparent about our sources is creative hygiene in this day and age and is crucial to build a healthy reputation amongst followers.
The careers that incorporate visual communication are myriad and often combine with the application of other modes and mediums to produce a limitless combination of career options.
As people, we are all visual communicators—even the ones who have no sight employ the vision of others to communicate the absence of their own. For those of us who wish to center their careers in the visual communication domain, however, may have some decisions to make and paths to choose between or to combine. The only restriction here would be your imagination.
Depending on your specialization may get a job as:
In a world that is fast becoming one with the screen, every designer will do well to remember that no matter how digitalized or AI driven visual communication gets, the humanity behind the engineering is an indispensable element that will only be hyper-specialized in more directed and efficient ways, allowing us to conserve our energy and creative vision to imagine better solutions for world problems and crises.
Did you know that we spend about 90% of our time indoors! We use the built environment, especially interior spaces,…
We live in a hyperlinked, hyper-connected world! Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Youtube, Google, have become verbs that represent “things we…
The moment one hears the word fashion, one immediately visualises, beautiful clothes, bags, accessories, interesting prints, embroidery and colours, glamour,…
In the first of our series of interactions with you, the aspiring Communication Design student, I think it is important…
The digital age has allowed photography to boom like never before. It’s a massive, commercial industry which is growing explosively…