Graphic Representation

My friend and colleague Geoff Haddon runs a workshop each year called Reduction and Redundancy. This is a short piece explaining the designer’s role in creating simplified images. The strength of a graphic representation can often be measured not by how much has been included but by how much it has been possible to omit. Graphic designers have used this fundamental approach to make striking visual statements from pictorial subjects by reducing them to the most essential elements needed to convey their nature. Such communication becomes powerful and direct without the viewer being distracted by unnecessary detail. But how much and what to depict is a careful balance between making the image ‘read’ and creating the simplest of visual statements. Decisions can rarely be made on function, elements which are essential in reality, may be entirely superfluous in a graphic representation. Artists and designers such as Michael Craig-Martin, Tom Eckersley, Armin Hofmann, Ikko Tanaka, and Otl Aicher have created both highly personal and disarmingly simple views of life by reducing images to their barest essentials.