A Visual Design Semiotic Primer

   
   

Graphic design is pure semiotics in action. Design theory should be based on semiotics, but there needs to be much more development to make that happen. To that end, I offer for designers, and for those interested in visual semiotics, this collection of conceptual tools. This primer is a compilation and condensation of articles I've published over several years. They are entirely revised here for a non-specialist, general audience. Each chapter opens as a pdf.

Chapters 2-6 offer six conceptual tools. It is possible to jump around from chapter to chapter, but as the material often builds from previous points, it may be best to work through the chapters sequentially.

By clicking on the poster offer in Chapter 3 below, you can get a downloadable wall size poster of the Periodic Table of the (Graphic Design) Elements suitable for hanging in a study or classroom.

Practicum 1 and Practicum 2 will give examples of how the tools presented here might be used in critique of existing designs (Practicum 1) and as a creative aid ((Practicum 2). They should be ready sometime this fall. I also intend to prepare a bibliography and set of references.

If you wish to cite any of these ideas, please either consult the original source, or give a complete citation off the web including date of document (each chapter includes an edition date) and date of download.

– Steven Skaggs, August 2011

 

   
   

2 Of Signs and Moments

3 Sign Classes as Elements of Design - (Poster here)

4 Mapping Graphic Image Space

5 Specificity

6 Semantic Profiles

7 The Functional Matrix

8 Glossary

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Practicum 1: Design Analyses

Practicum 2: Creative Procedures