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The Trajectory and Influence of Digital Technology in Graphic Design by Chukwuemeka Oluka


The creative and dynamic field of graphic design is nothing short of exciting. Imagine what it takes to communicate one’s ideas and experiences with visual and textual elements. So, to think of graphic design is to think of works like artistic advertisements, eye-grabbing graphics on websites, captivating content in magazines, etc. How about posters, infographics, book covers, product labels, logos, business cards, and mobile apps, the list is just long.

In all these works, tailored messages are communicated to attract and connect target audiences. This helps businesses to establish an identity for their brand. Meanwhile, every graphic design is meant to serve a purpose, which could either be to create aesthetics for enhancing user experience or to create that visual touch that shapes users’ emotions and appeal. To achieve this, graphic design elements such as colour, size, line, shape, form, texture, and space can either be combined or contrasted.

One of the best ways graphic designers can stay on top of their game is to keep up and closely monitor emerging technological trends influencing their jobs. In a paper published in ‘The International Journal of Design Education,’ David Sinfield of the Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand posited at the time, that the field of graphic design is moving away from the usual form of ink, pigment paint and paper, and is moving steadily into the digital spheres of illustration. According to him, this has significant implications for speed, colours, textures and varying styles that open other avenues not normally associated with graphic design.

It is therefore noteworthy that graphic design keeps undergoing major changes in its associated technologies. While design principles remain intact, new digital technologies provide prospects for improvements. Today, graphic designers are armed with devices such as digital recorders, MPEG players, iPhones, iPads, cell phones, laptops, and smartphones, as well as a plethora of other digital products surging the global market. There are also plenty of resources available online today that can be accessed through sites such as YouTube, Google Plus, Lynda dot com etc.

Shweta Kamra, a graphic designer and image editor on Medium in tracing how graphic design evolved from the traditional print to the dynamic world of digital media, revealed that in the Renaissance period, Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the Moveable Type influenced the field of graphics design. This invention birthed typography which became a breakthrough in printing, and thus, typography became a crucial element of graphic design, helping designers to enhance visual communications. Before the Renaissance period, symbols and images were used to convey messages in ancient civilizations.

After the Renaissance period was the industrial revolution which heralded significant advancement in technology. The industrial revolution saw the rise of print, with the invention of the printing press. This improved graphic design tremendously.

Tracing this trajectory further after the industrial revolution, the digital revolution and the era of digital design came on board. This period marked the advent of computers which became a significant innovation in graphic design history. So, digital designs became possible with the emergence of software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, giving graphic designers unprecedented creative leverage. Also, motion effect software tools such as Adobe After Effects or Blender 3D app would bring still designs to life through animations, transitions and video editing. Images could be manipulated, text and visuals could be integrated, and interactive user experiences became possible.

Digital technology has truly revolutionized the thought process and approach to the work of graphic designers. With the emergence of digital media, graphic designers can create and share their works across mobile apps, websites, social media and a large array of platforms. This encourages collaboration amongst designers, especially those whose roles are remote. Thus, with software tools like Adobe Creative Suite or Figma, digital technology allows faster iteration and more efficient workflows. With these tools, graphic designers can quickly create prototypes that test design concepts in real-time. Also, digital design tools like Canva Pro and Canva for Teams have made graphic design processes more simplified than ever. While Canva Pro was launched in 2015, Canva for Teams was launched in 2022.

Today, the discussions are centred around the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) into design processes for more immersive and engaging visual experiences. There is no doubt that these hold the future for graphic design.

In conclusion, tracing the trajectory of digital technology, reveal that technology is moving forward at supersonic speed. So, graphic designers have to match that pace of progression, especially in their designs. They just have to evolve, adapt and be in sync with emerging digital technologies as this remains the gateway to pushing themselves towards achieving their full potential.

About The Writer

Chukwuemeka Oluka is a graduate of Electronic and Computer Engineering from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria. He is a passionate writer, a graphic design enthusiast, a research enthusiast and a COREN-certified Engineer. He tweets @Mekus_Oluka and can be reached via “write2oluka@gmail.com

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