connect the dotsI can’t think of one promising finger painter or notepad doodler in their earliest design years who has expressed interest in becoming a “Communicator!” when he or she grows up.

In freshman naivete, I presumed that my future as a collegiate remained a mystery behind one of only two doors to the university art department: “Studio Art, This Way” and, “Everything That Isn’t Studio Art, That Way…and don’t forget to go buy your Mac.” (sigh)

How did I misconceive that my days as a quote, unquote “Graphic Design” student would be spent applying myself to the rigorous development of learning how to communicate visually – or at all?

According to Webster: to communicate is to “impart or interchange information by speech, writing, or  signs.” Because communication “provides a passage between places where no apparent line of relationship exists,” it should be said that communication design provides a passage between places where no apparent line of relationship exists.

In my mind, the task of the artist is to take in all sensations of day-to-day life and connect each dot into an illustrious product. For the graphic designer, this means building bridges between client and creative, between business and brand identity. Great advertisements and identities carry the kindred ability to translate universal, complex themes into a single, solid, highly-effective result – which can be an overwhelming task, to say the least.

Have you ever hit the dead end of creative thought? Here’s a tip from Stefan Mumaw, author of Caffeine for the Creative Mind, who introduces us to the daily practice of creative exercising:

Write the name of [your project and primary focus, client, or idea] in the center of a piece of paper, giving yourself ample room to expand the idea. Draw six lines from that central thought bubble, and at the end of each line, write a word that is related to the word in the center. Now, draw another six lines from each of those words and continue the process until you have four “expansions.” Your challenge is to take a word from the outermost extension of the web of words and try to connect it to the central idea.

Today, I love  this challenge that comes with every project. To practice the childlike endeavor of “connect the dots” can only ensure persistent growth in an ever-progressing industry. Communication Design.