Repositioning the graphic designer as researcher
journal contributionposted on 2020-03-12, 15:32 authored by Alison Barnes
In academic terms, the discipline of graphic design is relatively young. Consequently the position of the discipline within academic territory, and the role of the designer, continue to be debated. In part, these debates have been a product of attempts to define and defend the discipline's borders from within, in order to establish a sense of the role of graphic design and the graphic designer as commensurate with other disciplines both within and beyond art and design. In recent years graphic designers have variously been defined as ‘authors’, ‘producers’ and ‘readers’, yet none of these definitions seem to have provided any kind of productive or lasting impact within the academy. This paper suggests that rather than continue to seek territorial definitions and positions from within, it could be more productive to look beyond the confines of the discipline. Gaining a broader, interdisciplinary perspective on, and understanding of, qualitative research methods from other disciplines may enable the graphic designer to more fully position his or her practice within the wider academy. Such a perspective could help facilitate the repositioning and redefinition of the graphic designer as ‘researcher’—a move that would be productive in relation to the future development of postgraduate research within the discipline.
Funding for the PhD research discussed was provided by a three year, full time Arts & Humanities Research Council doctoral award.