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My literature review is a summary of the impacts that digital technologies have made on the graphic design process. This literature review includes the history of technological changes and the tools that technology has created. The literature review will also consist of the contributions that have been made by computers in the process of graphic design. The last part will consist of the negative impacts of technology on graphic design as well as the changes that have been achieved in graphic design as a result of technology advancements.
This literature review will give the relationship between developments in technology and their impact on graphic design. In today’s world technology is playing a major part of people’s lives, either as a socialization tool or as a working tool. For example, some people become seriously stressed when they cannot access the Internet and a majority of people confess that technology has had a great impact in their lives “technology gives us enormous flexibility and creative control. However, it gives the customer more chances to make changes that although not time consuming, can often be counterproductive. That said, I don’t think I’d want to return to the “old” ways of doing things”(Willis, 2011). Technology has had both positive and negative impacts on graphic design.
On one hand, it made it easier to do the work due to technological innovations such as printers, scanners, the Internet and designing program but on the other hand it has killed creativity with applications such as Photoshop, which are now replacing the old tradition of originality, skills and ideas. Too much dependence on technology has made many graphic designers slaves to technology and many are now not concerned about originality, good judgment and hands-on experience.
Some of the graphic designers who support technology argue on the contrary that “New graphic design software allows us to skip the old copy and past and stripping process, allowing us to do the work in a quarter of the time, let’s be thankful” (Perez,2010) that saves time for them than the steps involved in manual design process. They also believe that technology has brought about a shift in the creative process, as graphic designers now create designs using technology, compared to designers in the earlier days that carried out the same creation but using traditional methods.
In the earlier days, graphic designers used simple tools and equipment such as rubber cement, kneaded erasers, proportion wheels and the broad tape to create graphic designs such as posters, logos and simple adverts. “Woodcut” was one of the earliest techniques of printing which was used to print patterns onto cloths. This technique was widely used in Far East but later in the 5th century it was introduced into China where it was used to print texts and images onto paper. The next major development of technology occurred in the 19th century when chromolithography was put together.
Chromolithography was the most successful method of colour-printing developed (Lupton). Later in the same century offset printing was discovered. This technique enables the image carrier to link the image only to the ink and ensure that other parts are left ink-free. In the 1960s, an American company called Xerox came up with the photocopier hence doing away with the traditional methods of reproducing documents such as the use of carbon papers (Heller). The next big step in technology development came in 1969 with the discovery of laser jet and by 1981 the printer was released for mass marketing.
Modern technology created the Corel PageMaker, which is a computer application that started a dramatic revolution in the graphic design process, which did away with aspects of graphic traditions such as desktop publishing. This drastic change in tools used in graphic design changed the field into a technology-heavy field. The discovery of the computers made the process of graphic design even easier. Some of the computer applications such as fonts, font sizes and leading options made the process of typesetting much simpler.
Due to the accessibility of these applications, it is now easy for anyone to obtain them and create their own designs. Technology has had a great impact on the everyday life of many people. Majority of people are now relying heavily on technology such as the Internet for both social and economic activities. For example it is now much easier to obtain information from the Internet with only one click of the button. Individuals also use the Internet to connect and communicate with others from all over the world
The Internet application further made the process easier since designers could send their graphic designs to customers and get their approval or feedback almost immediately. One designer can brief and answer a client in a fraction of the time that could need to gather a whole team for such a briefing (Lupton). Technology became even better when Graphic-design software was improved by introducing software called QuarkXPress, which replaced PageMaker, graphic designers became more in control of their graphics. Ten years after the introduction of QuarkXPress, Adobe released graphic design software, which was known as InDesign, which is now very widely used in Graphic Design.
But because of these applications and because apple revolutionized the industry and made Graphic Design much more widespread, practically everyone can get their hands on the software meaning people could now create their own documents and designs.
Technology is having a huge impact on large newspaper companies as well as everyday life. Due to this many news companies are experiencing a drastic decrease in the demand for their services or products as people are turning to the internet to find out the news, it’s become even more easier to access the news as people can simply click and app on their smartphones and it will load up in their hands at any time of day in any place they are, this would be a huge downfall because of the progression of technology. However, technology is not all negative to news houses since it has also made it easier for them to obtain fresh information as soon as it occurs. One of the greatest negative effects that technology has impacted on the society is the breakdown in communication. Even around a family table, it is now common to find each individual glued to the phone or computer screen without exchanging any words with each other, even when walking around it is common to see people having their heads down to the floor because they are looking at their phones, people don’t have the communication skills people used to have before technology, people don’t speak face to face, they no longer even have to go to the office for a meeting.
The lack of communication has made many people anti-social, as they never find something fun to do such as going out to meet their friends but prefer to interact with them online people are becoming more and more lazy as technology progresses but besides this negative impact of technology that has encouraged laziness, the positive side of this is the fact that it is now possible to communicate with people from all over the world with just the click of a button and exchange both social and work-related ideas. In the graphic-design industry, technology has had both positive and negative impacts just like in the society. For example, technology saves graphic designers a lot of money, time and health risks, as compared to the earlier days when a lot of time and materials such as paint and brushes had to be utilized so as to come up with a graphic design. Technology has also made it easier for graphic designers to communicate with their clients easily through the use of electronic systems. Technology applications such as the Internet have also enabled designers to hold briefings with their potential customers and be able to demonstrate their designs and respond to any questions that the customers may ask (Song). This why a designer can alter any mistakes there may be in their designs that other people could spot.
This was not the case prior to these technology advancements where graphic designers had to assemble a conference so as brief one client. Graphic designers can also put up their designs on blogs and get opinions from different viewers, including their family and friends. This helps them to spot faults that could not have been identified and therefore make corrections to better their work. Advanced computer applications have become of great assistant to graphic designers as the programs automatically complete some of the steps in the design process. These type of applications save the designers a lot of time.
However, critics have argued that the overreliance on technology is killing critical thinking, creativity, originality and other positive aspects that were associated with traditional graphic design process. Nowadays even a quack can make use of graphic-design applications that are widely available to create their own documents. Other technology applications such as Photoshop have killed originality completely since the only thing one needs are parts of someone else’s pieces of work which he/she then cuts and pastes to come up with ‘their own’ graphic design Woodford). The lack of originality is slowly turning the Internet into a junk of the same pieces of information written in different forms, lacking diversity and fresh thinking. Digital technologies have had both positive and negative impacts on the graphic design process according to the varying opinions. On one hand, technology has made it easier for graphic designers to show case their designs to potential clients through the Internet and answer any questions they might have (Heller).
“I think we actually had a life, to be honest. We weren’t slaves to technology, original thought was a valued prize, and a person’s craft and skill were honed over well-balanced judgment, implementation and experience. Focus and application were the name of the game, not option 3-9” (Burges, 2010)
But also because of the invention of the personal computer
Richard Thorton said that, “the invention of the personal computer made it possible for untrained designers to create their own documents. This injured the market for included document templates, typefaces, clip art and more. The end user can also go online and purchase or sometimes download for free any of these things as well” (Richard Thorton)
As I have gone through my research I have found that most designers feel they do prefer the technology nowadays because of the ease of everything but they do feel there was more appreciation before technology when they had to create and spend time on their mock-ups.
I have learnt that before all this technology came about, designers would be more thoughtful and careful with their designs. I feel a lot more time was spent creating all the paste-ups, whereas nowadays it’s straight onto the computer and it can be done within a day or so.
But I also agree with a quote from Burgess B who said he prefers “a bit of both, I like the technology and ease of now but prefer the older days when skill and ideas were appreciated more. Photoshop and computers do not make you a designer, ideas and thought do.” You can’t purchase that in a box” (burgess B, 2012)
In conclusion I feel technology has made the job a whole lot easier than how it used to be in the 60’s as you can now answer a clients brief easily within a few hours as the designer and client can communicate by email it’s much more flexible this way. But on the other hand I have discovered a downfall of the impact of technology on the practice, as the work isn’t appreciated as much as it used to be back when everything was carefully thought out. People can easily access the design software graphic designers use, making it easy for any untrained designer to become a graphic designer by creating their own documents, etc. Most people don’t see the hard work behind the designs created anymore.


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