Chaity Tan, programme coordinator, Raffles Millennium International, talks about the various career opportunities in multimedia design and visual communications.
When you shop in a shopping mall, what makes you choose between items that have different appearances or brand names but the same function or utility? Do you decide on purely aesthetic grounds, or because one offers something special that another doesn’t, or because you prefer the brand name, or because your choice has been influenced by a successful marketing campaign? At home, in the street and at work you are surrounded by designed objects that you seem to take for granted, yet which are more significant in our daily lives than you perhaps realise. All of this is the role of multimedia and visual communication at play.
Visual communication is known for using visual, images and texts to communicate or convey a message to the audience. It is a powerful tool because the images that the audience sees can stimulate their senses. Graphic design and multimedia design is a part of the family tree of visual communication. Both designs express its concept and implication through visuals. They use visuals to connect with their audience convincingly.
So, what is the difference between graphic design and multimedia? The former primarily deals with print, such as annual reports, advertisements, logo design, magazine design, packaging, brochure design and so on. One of the skills that a graphic designer should acquire is to having a good layout skill and judgment. Multimedia, on the other hand, concentrates more on software where they can apply their knowledge on web design, video editing, etc. As multimedia is an offspring of graphic design, it too needs to have a good layout sense and the understanding of the basic design elements. It is essential for multimedia students to study and examine design fundamentals as well before they advance to explore software knowledge.
Many do not consider design as a highly regarded education, particularly in Asia, because people assume that it is less academic compared to other professions. This is not true. Design does have scholarly value. Design is `different` but it is not any less significant if we observe in detail. Design is unique and rare. It requires talent just like a good surgeon or accountant has.
Graphic and multimedia design allows student to be creative and creativity is valuable because design requires problem solving skills to achieve a unique expectation. Students will get to learn to see things in different perspectives when a design problem is given to them. Such analysis helps to develop new and innovative ideas.
While people take for granted the visuals they are surrounded by every day, graphic design students are the ones who contemplate how and why the consumers buy certain products and brands. The ability to comprehend does not mean that a designer just puts together images and texts on a packaging box. The placement of font, colours and pictures are all well examined and evaluated before a design is put on visuals. The process to develop a good design in reality needs critical, rational, methodical and valuable analytical skills to accomplish. A good design does not appear suddenly. Cultural and cognitive psychology is put into consideration so that the message is understood within a culture or a specific age group and gender.
Students who take up graphic design as their major have the opportunity to work in an advertising agency where they get to design advertisements and in some cases, they will be involved in the production of a photo-shoot for some fashion/ product brands. Graphic designers are also likely to become good packaging designers.
Multimedia students can also take up web designing as a profession and work with studios that involve video editing and photography. Whichever title the students get in the future, it is crucial that they receive quality training that can help them develop a good eye for detail and a good intellect for design problem solving skills. Both multimedia and graphic design students will be taught to predict the design problems they would face. Having a good learning attitude is as important for students when they are hunting for jobs. Graphic and multimedia design students are gifted people like many others whose rare talent can produce remarkable results.