Sociological and cultural references are inextricably interlinked. Studying them will help you understand the values that members and groups of people share with each other. To understand how graphic design taps into sociological and cultural references I want to define what these topics are first.
Sociology is the study of society, its social relationships, and social institutions. It is how humans interpret and interact with their environment and how the environment, in turn, affects human behavior. Societies are able to shape personal beliefs, behaviors, and values. Society can influence an individual person’s tastes in art, music, and fashion. To name a few constructs that are used by societies to reach their members: think about the media, school curriculum, the church and online communities that you are a part of.
Culture comprises of the beliefs, behaviors, objects, and other characteristics that are common to the members of a particular group or society. With culture, people and groups define themselves, adapt to society’s shared values, and contribute to society. Thus, culture includes many societal aspects such as language, customs, values, norms, rules, tools, technologies, products, organizations, and institutions.
By becoming familiar with the society and culture of a particular place or market, Graphic Designers can make decisions on how certain colors, combinations, historical symbols, and shapes can be used to inspire their target audience to react in a particular way when presented with thoughtful imagery.
It is important to understand how colors can have an emotional effect on viewers. Color isn’t a universal language, every culture and society has a different interpretation for each color because of people from different experiences and memories throughout their life. Meanings that are associated with different colors depending on the amount of power given to it by the culture and society and the setting that it is repeatedly used in. For example, red is associated with war and violence, but it can also represent the exact opposite, love. In various cultures references the color green is normally associated with earthly vegetation, life, and decay. However, green is also looked at as a sign for jealousy. The color black may suggest something evil or a sign for death. But oddly enough, the color black is also a symbol for fertile soil as well as the sacred stone of Islam. By realizing the sensitivity of color combinations in different cultures, a graphic designer can find ways to communicate cross-culturally in a visually considerate manner.
If a branding specialist wants to expand their reach beyond their immediate society and culture to reach a global audience then new ideas and the design process of combinatory play can be implemented to paint a strong impression in the minds of the wider audience. Einstein coined the term combinatory play as defined by the process of combining thoughts, ideas, cultures, values, etc. that aren’t normally found together into something new. It involves a seemingly unconscious application that aligns seemingly unconnected elements into something miraculous. This can lead to something genius or a disaster, but it is up to artists and designers to have the courage to take risks and introduce new ideas into the world. On one hand, the results of combinatory play may deeply offend a group of people who may not want the references from their culture be appropriated with another. On the other hand, taking risks as a designer and combining previously separate values could also bridge groups of people and establish stronger connections.
The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.Lorraine Hansberry, a playwright and writer. The first black female author to have a play performed on Broadway.
Symbols and Shapes
Symbols also have various meanings. Before Adolf Hitler designed the Nazi flag with the swastika to represent purity, this symbol was used in Neolithic Eurasia, perhaps representing the movement of the sun through the sky. To this day it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism despite the painful memories the Nazi party gave this shape. Designers need to consider the history of a certain shape and how it might be interpreted in their designs.
Shapes and perceptions are extremely diverse. Designers need to keep in mind how different cultures have different opinions about what is beautiful and harmonious. Most humans have a subconscious attraction to certain proportions such as the golden ratio, spirals, and other formulas found in nature. If you take a look at the characteristics of the Renaissance you’ll notice that the designs favored a stable, symmetrical composition. Renaissance artists love triangles and pyramids. On the other hand, during the Surrealist movement in history, the artist found that not-always-perfect asymmetrical patterns were alluring and this inspired philosophy of organic design. This results in simple geometric shapes that come together to yield very ornate and interesting constructs. In graphic design, the same rule applies: asymmetry can be either an eye-catching component that differentiates a product from its competitors or it can be a turnoff to the more conservative buyer.
I hope, this article has provided you with a better understanding of how culture and society can be reached through effective graphic designs. Creative Repute Design Agency can help you bring your branding goals to life. Please reach out to us at [email protected] for a free consultation. We are a team of world-class researchers and graphic designers with a culturally diverse and intimate connection to the arts. We do not have a rigid subscription to a specific type of aesthetic, therefore every design screams the client’s brand without a hint of Creative Repute. Nowhere else can you have better support, and the ability to deliver quality service in the strictest of deadlines.