Different graphic design concentrations generally relate to different ways to communicate visually, depending on the audience, medium and circumstances. Programs of graphic design study usually offer similar foundational classes in a core curriculum, but usually allow students to pursue a specialized area of interest within the design degree. Some of the most common concentrations in graphic design are listed below.
Editorial Design (or Publication and Print Design)
Perhaps the most traditional area, editorial design encompasses publication and print design, exploring the overall structure of information as well as the use of text and images. Editorial design is employed in book design, for example, which concerns the appearance of the exterior cover and the layout of the interior pages’ content. Whatever the medium, the goal of editorial design is to keep the reader interested and to effectively communicate the desired content to that reader.
Posters combine words and images in a powerful public announcement, whether for a concert, public service campaign or product unveiling.
Typography examines the use of letters and words and their placement on a page.
Advertising and Marketing
Advertising and marketing communicate directly with consumers. Advertising design attracts customers’ attention and generates desire for a product. Marketing uses symbols to specifically identify an object, associate that object with what it represents and use that identity in all public communications. Concentrations in this area focus on the psychology behind imagery, paying attention to the influence of colors, for example.
Logo Design and Corporate Identity
Graphic design is used to create a brand or identity for a company and its goods. This includes development of logos and print collateral.
Product packaging, which simultaneously serves to protect and display as well as convey the identity of a product, serves a functional purpose, such as to enhance presentation, facilitate access and generate appeal.
Interactive and Navigational Design
Several related but different graphic design subfields involve interaction with users or viewers, from giving directions to help navigate through a building to taking instructions from users through input in a mobile app.
Signage helps people find their way through streets and buildings, giving clues about the environment people find themselves in.
Exhibition and display design involves an audience through the use of graphics, objects, text, sound effects and participatory opportunities.
User Interface and Interaction
Successful websites, software programs, computer games and mobile apps need to be accessible, understandable and appealing to their audience. User interface and interaction designers work to enhance ease of navigation.
Motion graphics and animation blend modern technology with artistic creativity, organizing ideas dynamically in time and communicate using images in sequence with narration, music and text. Examples where motion graphics are used include film titles, music videos, television commercials, website banner ads and digital displays.
In recent years, more attention has been paid to the environmental, ecological and social impact of design. More graphic designers are concentrating on using their skills to address community challenges and to effect positive change in the world. Sustainable design also seeks to minimize negative impacts, exploring eco-friendly packaging solutions, for example.
Pursuing a concentration within a degree program allows for development of advanced, specialized skills that can help set you apart from others. Graphic design as an industry and as a field of study offers a wide range of different areas and angles to explore in different graphic design concentrations.