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Week 7 Discussion Topic (Please title all your posts as “Date_YourName_Topic”) by Mind Map: Week 7 Discussion Topic (Please title all your posts as “Date_YourName_Topic”)
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Week 7 Discussion Topic (Please title all your posts as “Date_YourName_Topic”)

Should visual design be considered as a science or an art? the purpose of this debate is to get you to think more carefully about the nature of visual design.


Mr. Sturgill: Your argument of "the stop sign is niether artistic or scientific." is difficult to follow.  You followed that statement with very scientific adjectives (logical and universal) in describing a stop sign. However, you continue to argue that these are scientific elements.  As my team-mate, Mr. House has eloquently addressed in his note, these are indeed scientific.  The color and even font that is used is USED because of the scientific knowledge and research that the designers have learned.


I find it interesting that you bring up the example of something that should be testable if it is scientific.  This class has given us specific assignments to "test" visuals, to see if they are effective.  Design is all about "testing" isn't it?  You design something in a very OBJECTIVE manner.  You design something that complies with what is scientifically known about how humans learn.  A designer relies on and believes in the scientific principles that have been revealed over years of research and testing regarding human perception and learning.


According to, "science" is KNOWLEDGE, as of FACTS or PRINCIPLES; knowledge gained by systematic study; SKILL, especially reflecting a precise application of facts or principles.  As we have learned this quarter, there are sets of principles that must be applied in visual design.  In making a successful visual, a "designer" uses scientific knowledge of basic elements in our environment (i.e. lines, negative and positive space, lighting, organization, structure, hue, saturation, shapes, rule of thirds) and how humans process information.  For these reasons, visual design should be considered a science.


The stop sign is niether artistic or scientific. It is universal and logical in its design. The color red is associated with alert. It means to stop. Just as the Golden Arches signifies McDonnalds. Is there a scientific basis here or is it just a visual association with the fast food product? Its called branding. So I am not sure I buy this argument.


The Color red is actually scientifically proven to make people hungry and catch their attention. It is a great branding tool to know that the human brain makes the person hungry when they see your sign. That is why you see a lot of restaurants with the color red used in their logos, companies like McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Wendy's, Sonic, Dairy Queen, just to name a few.


I think you guys may be mis-understanding the term that we are debating. I believe that the term science is used inregards to the actual mental process that goes into creating a visual, such as the way the brain processes colors and shapes to form meanings. The term art would be more of the esthetics aspect of the visual, like creating a color gradient to provide a shape a brighter color. A stop sign could be seen as a piece of art, there is a science behind using the color red to symbolize the thought process of "Alert!" which would catch your attention. While the octagon that is used might be more of an artistic touch, the colors used is a scientific decision based on the brain and thought process that the learner uses.

2/11/11_RGreene_Pro Science

As I looked up the definition of science I found something that backed up that visual designing is a science. According to a science can be a skill, especially reflecting a precise application of facts or principles; proficiency. This is exactly what visual designing is. It is a skill, that not all people possess.  Some people may try to design visuals, but lets be honest it doesn't ever look too good beause it is a skill that some people just are given.  In order to be a good visual designer you have to also have the skill to use precise and particular applications and designs to create a great overall picture.  I also believe a science is something you can study and get better at, which is what visual designers do. They evaluate visuals and learn what works and doesn't work to determine what makes a great visual and a bad one.

Famous Artist Mark Getlein purports that design principles are "instinctive", "built-in", and "natural." I think you just have to pay attention if you want to use these instincts and natural abilities.

2/16/11 Yinger_Anti-Science

Oh wow. This is tough. There is certainly a part of design that involves making it functional. But you also want to make it aesthetically pleasing. You'd have a better chance of seeing an advertisement in an art museum than in a science museum. And it's the aesthetically pleasing aspect that makes a design more effective. A scientific design doesn't need to be aesthetically pleasing or follow certain principles to work.


I agree with this completely. I would much rather view an artistic creative visual that I may have to think about as opposed to a cut and dry scientific based statement. -


If you say something is science, it should be testable. For example, Newton's law. It works all the time and you can test it again and again to get the same result. Obviously this is not what visual design it. Yes, we have some principles in visual design. But it's more like some conclusions rather than the scientific results. Can you test the principles? Of course not. Yes, visual designers should have some skills, but it doesn't mean whoever has the skills can become a visual designer. Just like someone who is good at Photoshop skills isn't necessarily a good photograher, There is something that cannot be explained by science beyond the principles and skills in visual design, which is the nature of it. This is why we should consider it as art.


I necessariliy don't believe science is something that is testable. Engineers, zoologists, micro technolgy are some science fields that also include artistic talent. Psychologists and sociologists are considered to be in the science field (social science). Educators are in the science field as well. They graduate with a bachelor of science degree. I think the science fields erquire an artistic ability though to be successful.


I think you could say that a scientifically designed object could easily be tested. You could create a series images that are visually stimulating to the brain and perform test to monitor the brains stimulation to the images. You could also look at it from a Pychologist position and the old "What do you see in this image?" Those test are performed using visuals that were created from a scientific model that is used to gauge the brains interpretation. Just a thought.

2/19/11_Alex M

You are absolutely right in stating that not everyone can be a visual designer. It does take a particular skill set to converge items of different form to meet the visual standards of users. It is an art though, that takes time to perfect. Rather or not it can be tested, well thats kind of up in the air.


2/19/11 Alex M.

You are right in regards to art being in many aspects of our life. I too consider the fact that visual design is an art. To form anything visually takes a great level of skill and knowledge of how things are put together.


Art takes form in many ways. Many people think of art as the painting on the wall or perhaps even the song playing on the radio. I tend to think that art also encompasses life that is occurring around us. We are living in the world of technology which is much different from generations before us. I believe graphic design is art. Art makes you smile when you see it and gives you the feeling of being a part of something even if you had no part in making it or even if you are unsure what it means. I do believe graphics can and are considered art to many people.


Hi all, could you please use notes for the comments, so we will have a more organized map? Thank you!


I believe that design is a science. There are many studies that shows people prefer certain colors over others, that we like certain perspectives or arrangements. The content of a design could well be considered art, but the layout is science in terms or reaching an audience in a certain way. Red and yellow will make you hungry. Yellow invokes feeling of brightness and wellbeing. There are many similar items. Becuace it is testable and the results are repeatable, I think design is a science.


Rebecca, certainly agree that the results are replicable, by not by all. For example if I were given the task of completing an assignment you had already created, and I was given the same information as you had been given, my visual design would likely look vastly different from yours. Teh graphics, color scheme, and even font, style and size would likely be different than what you used. The end product would be a visual design, but they would be two very different designs and process to create that design would have been different for each of us. Whereas, if we were in a chemistry clas and both ask to create a compound--the steps and chemicals used would be the same for both. I am just trying to play devil advocate here!


The term Science is defined as "The state of knowing." The true science of visual design would be considered a way of producing visual knowledge. The purpose of a visual is to provide some sort of knowledge to the learner. Without visual design being a science there would be no way of classifying visual design. While some of you may believe visual design should be an art, it is okay. There is definitely an art needed in creating visuals but the science behind the development of visuals is more important. The actual thought process that takes place when developing a visual has nothing to do with artistic skills. The thought process revolves around knowing what the learner needs to see and how they will understand the content, which would be a science. Thoughts?  


The mere word visual would suggest art form. I think it depend on the visual design. The products of painters are visual designs,and I doubt that few of them would consider themselves to be in the field of science. To me the word art implies practice. I think that is what visual design is. You are continually practicing. Each design is different, the message each design is intented to delivery is different, and reasoning behind the creation of each design is different. There is no document or set of instruction to that can be followed to create a good visual design. While there are certain steps that are followed to improve the overall design, and instructions for using programs and applications to aid in creation of the design, the design process is not a lab experiment with concrete squential directions.

2/19/11 Alex M

It is indeed an art form and one that is practiced until perfected. Visual design does also require a particular skill set that may not be equal in everyone. One thing I do wonder is at what point do we elevate to, when some would view it as a science?

2/19-Alex Murray_Art

It is sort of difficult trying to seperate art and science, I definately think visual design is an art, but art can be a multitude of things. To say that something is an art, is recognizing its complexity, or relevance of being something that requires some sort of knowledge to comprehend or construct. There is definately a level of talent or skill that one must have to understand or practice the art of visual design.