The graphics of design
In an industry fuelled by change, it's the concept that remains the same

Scott Crabbe
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 18/00) - Approached with a thought, faced with a market, and presented with a deadline, it's up to graphic designers like Heidi Held to complete the thought and produce a clear concise idea.

"Graphic designers are problem solvers," Held says.

"It's more than just fitting things onto the page, we try to make a clean message come out in the end."

There is no clear job description for a graphic designer. They are responsible for creating images.

Product packaging is graphic design, print advertisements (posters, billboards, brochures) are graphic design. Newspaper/magazine layout is graphic design. Corporate logos, school crests, company insignia's...the list goes on...all of it stemming from the art of graphic design.

"When hiring people, we look for someone who understands pre-press production, who has a good sense of typography, and a good sense of white space." Held says.

"A person must also be able to take criticism."

Computer knowledge is also a strong aspect of the job. Since her graduation from Red River Community College in 1984, Held has seen a lot of changes to the industry thanks to the introduction of the computer.

"What's critical to today's standard is understanding the software that is being used," Held said.

"It's good to keep in mind though, that software doesn't make you good at your job, and should be treated as just a tool."

Computer technology has allowed graphic designers more freedom to push the envelope of creativity through image manipulation, pixel altering and simple cut and paste methods.

"Another thing computers have given us is a quicker turn around time," Held says.

"What used to take two weeks to produce can now take two days."

The production of a concept from idea to image should not be a solo effort, Held notes, as brainstorming and feedback from other designers are important contributors to the finished product.

"I think there's an advantage to working with several artists," Held says.

"You can always draw on other people's strengths."

When it comes to the question of whether graphic design is in actuality an art form, the answer usually lies within the finished product.

"I think of it as a commercial form of art," Held adds.

"Put it this way, (an advertisement poster) that is selling a product can be considered a fine piece of art."