Diversity in the Treatment of Visual Space in Graphic Design: A Correlation between the Landscape of a Place and its Visual Culture
A tenet of geography is that locations matter in understanding a wide variety of processes and phenomena. Geographers and cultural anthropologists seek to understand relationships among places and the connection between places and people at regional and local levels. Disciplines such as architecture and anthropology have theorized the influence that culture and geography have on the visual perceptions and aesthetic preferences of people from different cultures. The dynamics relating society and its physical environment are not only a core element of cultural geography but also of increasingly urgent concern to other disciplines (e. g., architects, urban planers, graphic designers, etc.) The concern is urgent as the world participates in a technological revolution that coerces global participation at all levels (communication, trade, etc.) The responsibility of graphic designers to communicate effectively to their audiences has become a difficult task, especially when the audiences are from a culture other than that of the designer. Sufficient research exists to establish that people interpret colors and symbols differently, world over. This paper attempts to explore the presence of geographical influences in the treatment of visual space (layout) in graphic design. The literature review examines spatial theories from other disciplines in the context of graphic design to better understand the varying aesthetic demands across cultures. Just as symbols and colors have many interpretations globally, culture and geography may influence the organization of visual elements in a designed space. In this study, two places are chosen based on the opposing qualities of their landscapes (Example: A crowded city with skyscrapers and a sparsely populated city with a flat landscape.) The hypothesis of this paper is tested with a qualitative assessment of the places and the design of their outdoor advertising. Outdoor advertising, namely billboards, directly participate in the landscape of a place and are therefore appropriate for this study.
Keywords: Graphic Design, Visual Space, Layout, Geography, Landscape, Outdoor Advertising, Billboard, Globalization, Diversity, Culture
Assistant Professor, Graphic Design and Graduate Advisor, MFA program, College of Arts, Media and Design Department of Design , University of Central Oklahoma