UK’s unique geographical position results in its experts choosing self development, which includes graphic design. Experts are also involved with developments taking place in neighbouring countries and the internet was extremely useful in putting interested parties in these two fields in touch with each other and sharing possible development tools. The development of Graphic Design is also assisted by annual exhibitions and specialised conferences held both in UK and outside the Arab world.
The academic and professional specialists for the basis in developing graphic design through the formation of local learning institutions. In these institutions academics, programmers and graphic design teachers can meet with professional designers and discuss the way business is moving forward and requirements of the labour market.
Practical training is considered the foundation of Graphic Design, upon which the academic skill of the student and his creativity are built. Working in a design office is considered to be the most important and effective tool in measuring the level of academic learning. It also gives an indication of the effectiveness of teachers in producing a generation of students capable of dealing with the academic ethos and engaging with the requirements of the profession. This training provides the students with opportunities to polish and develop their skills by working along side established practitioners. Today’s graphic design tools rely on information technology for producing visualisations of scientific developments. This visualisation requires an understanding of the scientific theory and the visualisation tools available, which in turn relies on the expertise of graphic designers.
In this paper I will focus on the profession of graphic design and its development by discussing its early development. I will review the positive and negative aspects of that development and how they related to changes in the market and the size of the market and labour force. I will also discuss the academic concepts, and the requirement for graduate graphic designers.
The historic and technical initial stages of graphic design in UK
Graphic design developed alongside the printing and information technology industries. Printing was brought to UK in the 1940s by people who had learnt the trade in other countries. UK’s printing evolution was similar to that of other countries. Printing started using wooden moulds, then zinc clichés and letterpress, as well as other printing tools, symbols and shapes. It was the printing technology that restricted the scope for producing new designs. The range of items printed was limited to newspapers, cards and stationary. Printing started mainly in black and white, and was then developed to make photo made clichés through which the printers were able to print in full colour. Typolography, or raised printing was the main method and is still used today. Offset printing enhanced the quality of production, providing improvements in colour and picture reproduction.
In the late sixties, design pioneers were not graphic designers, but had learnt the technologies of collage and calligraphy. They were able to imitate designs from abroad and in some instances reproduced them. Their work initially ranged from greetings cards, business cards, social stationary, letterheads and envelopes, then progressed to brochures and folders. The work was mainly limited to newspaper advertising which relied predominantly on the offset printing method. We shouldn’t forget the air brush technology that provided designers with the use of graded colours, achieving three dimensional effects for some designs, although the number of people using this was limited.
The design and printing sectors found the computer to be an effective way of improving productivity. In 1988 with the arrival of the first design computer by Apple Macintosh, the numbers of workers in the field increased and performance progressed in the pre-printing stages such as film making and separation. However, the expense of computers meant that there use was still limited. The production of personal computers by competitors of Apple Macintosh as well as the ease with which film can be processed through its programs, created a huge increase in the number of professionals interested in graphic design. This became evident by the growth in the number of agencies, design offices, publishing houses and service centres.
Personal computers affected the technical and artistic aspects of production. Some production centres were able to develop their skill base and by recruiting experienced designers and developing them by organising training courses. These highly trained individuals achieved high standards of work within and outside UK and were able to compete with others in the Arab regions and captured a share of these markets, producing many publications. Jordanian specialists became serious competitors against other Arab countries which had previously monopolised the fields of design and printing. UK has developed so that it can meet the demand for design and printing within the country. UK has become a magnet for many publishing houses in the Arab region. Many production and publishing organisations were able to catch up to the levels of the latest technology. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that they will develop further, using modern production tools, and this will ensure there are enough local specialists who can continue to produce work of the highest quality.
The pace of technological development made it necessary for the academic institutions to provide the Graphic design courses market with the skilled workers who can work to the high standards required. These institutions have to continually adapt to the advancing technology as well as support the academics in their quest to enhance the artistic, scientific and technological aspects of production and publishing. Relationships must also be strengthened by co-operation between business leaders and academic institutions in order to provide the mutual benefit of improve standards, with the ultimate aim of keeping up with both local and international developments.
The easiest way to judge the standard of design and printing in a country is through the newspapers, magazines and books published. Television also provides a showcase for visual communication through locally produced advertisements. The speed of printing development has made impositions on graphic design and the designers themselves. Designers have to continuously update their training to keep abreast of new technology. This enables them to be at the forefront of improving quality and creativity in all aspects of production.