Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: graphic design from The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Graphic Design and Designers

Generic term for the activity of combining typography, illustration, photography and printing for purposes of persuasion, information or instruction. William Addison dwiggins first used the term ‘graphic designer’ in 1922, although it did not achieve widespread usage until after the Second World War.


Summary Article: graphic design
From Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

A page from The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (1896), produced by the Kelmscott Press. Credit:Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

The art and profession of selecting and arranging visual elements—such as typography, images, symbols, and colours—to convey a message to an audience. Sometimes graphic design is called “visual communications.” It is a collaborative discipline: writers produce words and photographers and illustrators create images that the designer incorporates into a complete visual message. Although graphic design has been practiced in various forms throughout history, it emerged as a specific profession during the job-specialization process that occurred in the late 19th century. Its evolution has been closely bound to developments in image making, typography, and reproduction processes. Prominent graphic designers include Jules Chéret, Piet Zwart, Paul Rand, Alexey Brodovitch, Milton Glaser, and David Carson.

Event: graphic design

Keywords: graphic design

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Copyright 1994-2017 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc

Related Articles


Full text Article Graphic Design in New Media
Computer Graphics Companion

Graphic design communicates ideas and information visually. Guidelines for graphic design were originally based on older printing press...

Full text Article graphic design
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

(1935) : the art or profession of using design elements (as typography and images) to convey information or create an effect; also : a product of th

Full text Article Visual Displays
Encyclopedia of Perception

Visual displays are depictions that convey information by means of elements beyond pure text. Examples discussed in this entry include graphic...

See more from Credo