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Having studied Graphic Design at the Tshwane University of Technology afforded me an opportunity to interact with a variety of individuals with interesting personalities with whom most have similar ideals, methods and way of thinking. It was a great place of getting and sharing ideas even though the competitiveness would creep in. Having had some great lecturers that offered tremendous support and really pushed one to think creatively and better themselves also contributed in all of us eventually calling ourselves qualified Graphic Designers.


What is a Graphic Designer really?

Let me put this in my understanding. This is an individual that CAN develop creative graphics that communicate an idea thorough illustrations that will captivate the targeted audience. Be it text, imagery and a combination of the two.


Why Graphic Design?


A person would study or become a Graphic Designer to express the creative ideas they have and are already in possession of the ability create graphics. I say so because a lot of people have “creative” ideas but cannot graphically represent them and therefore are not Graphic Designers.



What on earth is that? Well to answer that  I have consulted the Wikipedia and it says “Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed, such as an idea..” Something new is what I’m getting here and I do believe that! Even though they say there is nothing new under the sun.

So Graphic Designers must have creativity then, period. This is exactly what lead me to ask, are we really talented and creative in our country? The answer to that lies within what we deem as creative and what are the acceptable standards of creativity. We work with colour, composition, layout and form and combining those elements together can prove to be an epic failure to your idea or can spring out a genius torrent of creative concepts!


Argumentatively, developing graphics for an already existing organisation is limiting to what one can do in the sense that there is a branding manual that serves as a guideline when it comes to graphical concepts a Graphic Designer may come up with. I do believe this is a constraint and I also understand why companies would do such, which is avoiding inconsistencies and misrepresentations. However, I also believe that creativity springs out when free from boundaries. We want to do what we want and believe is the best in our eyes, nothing wrong with that indeed but one has to accommodate a whole lot of receivers of the graphical “message”.


Sure most agencies absorb a portion of fresh-from-varsity talent and make it ideally but what about the rest that do not seem to make it in? Those are the ones that make me ask the question at hand. I look at the leading brands, organisations and forums such as the South African Graphic Designers on Facebook whereby most posted content is creative, inspiring and mind-blowing, as a litmus test when I want to compare South Africa with the rest of the world.


The answer is fairly straight forward then: We are creative! There is a percentage group that has a lot of work to do to be counted as tops, that is outweighed by the seriously creative bunch! What can we as Graphic Designers do to better ourselves and spring out creative ideas? Well I may not know nor have the right answers but the obvious thing to do would be taking the profession seriously and research what must be done beforehand, bounce off ideas and ask for help. I also seriously think that it does not matter what school produced you, rather what you can do to graphically inspire and render a good communication solution.

That is my take, let me know what’s yours.


Sabelo Mzuku.

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