Ashford University CGD218–My Final Project

Visual Literacy in a Global Business Environment:

Impact of Cross Cultural Experiences on Understanding and Interpreting Images

Synthea R. Freeman

CGD218 Visual Literacy in Business

Instructor:  Lawrence Master

March 14, 2011

Commentary on Project’s Graphic Design Parameters

For this assignment, I selected a graphic design from a course project I completed during my undergraduate coursework at Ashford University in CGD 218 Visual Literacy in Business. The main purpose of this project was to demonstrate an understanding of the principles of visual literacy as presented in the course by applying this learning in the development and production of an effective visual design project. Additionally, this design is evidence of in my ability to use what I have learned about the principles of text design and aesthetics of text to create media with the capacity to enhance learning.

Give Peace a Chance—The Buddha

The visual design accessible through the link above is a poster that utilizes several approaches to visual communication including images and groups of images, typography, and symbols and signs. I entitled this poster “Give Peace a Chance” because it conveys numerous concepts and ideas about Peace in the nuclear age. These ideas are derived through a body of knowledge and cultural experiences based on the unique perspectives of Eastern and Western history, philosophy, religion, medicine, and folk cultural icons, heroes and archetypes. Berger (2008) observes that these conditions will invariably result in a different understanding of the message.

The first approach to visual communication used in creating this poster is the image, a collection of signs and symbols often having symbolic significance and unconscious meanings (Berger. p. 78, 259). Images are very powerful because of their ability to evoke responses in people who are connected to their beliefs and values (Berger, p. 22). This is a copy of a digital image I ran across some time ago entitled “One Great Tear for Mankind” (1998). The groups of images include the “Cosmic Buddha” floating in space among the stars, while embracing the world in his hand, as he cries and gives the peace sign with the other hand. In this artist’s rendering these groups of images blend into a single work (Freeman, 2011).
Typography is the next critical element of this graphic design. I chose a typeface/font named Fontasia (Velez, 2002), and I believe this oriental style and selected color blends well with the cosmic background theme of the original artwork. The alignment/placement of the graphic text also adds to the message content. Notice that the text is placed near the two brightest stars in the image, using the existing imagery to highlight the graphics (Freeman, 2011),

Additionally, the time and date of the Buddha’s memo to mankind near Buddha’s head and over his shoulder places the text where the illusion of reflected sunlight points to and highlights the text against the darker Cosmos, while the message is placed nearer to the Earth (Freeman, 2011). Near the bottom of the poster, the quote from Yoko Ono focuses on the difference in chronological context, which ultimately brings those events into greater relevance for our age (Freeman, 2011).
The interpretive content communicated within the text leads the viewer to make additional associations not apparent in the image alone. Without the time and date, it would be hard to infer exactly why the Buddha is crying, but this additional information has the effect of creating a much more emotionally charged image (Freeman, 2011). The overall aesthetic effect rendered through the context, harmony, and contrast of the poster; the typeface; placement, alignment and color of the text; and the unity and synergy of image and text create a more impactful message that the viewer is much more likely to remember. (Freeman, 2011).
How are text design principles used to effectively deliver a message?
In this week’s video learning resource, Amy Pointer, discussed text and text design principles used for designing websites and explored many examples of text-based objects that illustrate these principles. She shares her experience as a graphic & media designer by showing how text can be used to communicate a message. Ms. Pointer begins by explaining why “Text and Text Matters” should concern me and explains that attention to “Text and Text Matters” will result in the payoffs of greater legibility and readability, clearer communication, and increased audience retention. She goes on with the basics of “Text and Text Matters” including typeface and design choices. Among the design choices presented, the following were used in the attached graphic design to effectively deliver the message:

• Upper/Lower case
• Alignment
• Line length
• Color Contrast
• Decorative type face
How are aesthetics used to enhance text-based content and engage the reader?
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy associated with art and beauty (Zhang, 2009). It is concerned with how individuals perceive objects or make judgments based upon information received through the five senses (Anderson, 2009). Aesthetics is also associated with affect (or mood), emotion, and feeling (Zhang, 2009). It is this perception of an affective/emotive connection with our personal experience of reality that makes aesthetic concerns related to text-based content important in applied instructional design.
In his book “Aesthetic Principles for Instructional Design”, Dr. Patrick Parrish (2007) bridges the gap between aesthetic design principles and instructional design practice. He theorizes that aesthetics describes “a particularly heightened form of engagement with the world, a form of inquiry that does not limit itself to scientific or technological constraints. But instead, it takes a holistic account of the world and ourselves” (Parrish, 2007).

Since this cognitive state is marked by “emotionally charged anticipation and deep engagement”, these experiences represent what Parrish refers to as ”the optimal conditions for learning in any significant, transformative learning experience” (Parrish, 2007). Parrish (2007) observed that most aesthetic principles have parallels in information processing, constructivist, and social learning theories, essentially because an aesthetic experience underlies all efforts to find or create meaning.

The discussion prompt also added that the “creative and purposeful use of text can help make instructional materials more engaging and support your goals as an instructional designer”. Therefore, aesthetics should be at the core of the Instructional Designer’s efforts to enhance text-based content for the purpose of engaging the reader.

APPENDIX 1 – Glossary of Graphic Design Terms

(Adapted from the Design and Visual Communications (Graphics).Glossary (2012) New Zealand Qualifications Authority)

Balance–This graphic design uses an informal or asymmetrical balance, where the elements of a design are distributed unequally, as in the side view of a teapot.
Context– Context can be given or created, so consideration of context has a dual nature—the need to accommodate the many given contextual qualities of a situation in an instructional design (Tessmer and Richey 1997) and the possibility to create aspects of the instructional context to support instructional goals. Context must contribute to the cohesiveness of the learning experience by reinforcing all its components.
Cohesiveness–plays a similarly critical role. The many elements of any artwork of quality—whether color, texture, tone, tempo, site, lighting, mood, or voice—are either purposefully controlled or creatively appropriated by the artist to make the experience immersive. Even if they seem subordinate or accidental to an uncritical eye, these elements are not random
Emphasis–What stands out the most gets noticed first, emphasis influences choices of color, value, size shape etc.
Harmony–A harmonious design is one in which its different elements are in unity with each other for example, its colors blend together well.
Dissonance–The opposite quality to harmony, involves the use of opposing elements, such as clashing colors and shapes, in the same design.
Movement–An object with strong “visual movement” tends
Proportion–Proportionality has to do with the relationship between different parts of an object or its component pieces (or between those parts and the object as a whole
Unity–All the elements look like they belong together. This helps determine how many elements you use and how they fit together to make a whole


Anderson, S.P. (2009). In defense of eye candy. A list apart: For people who make websites. Retrieved from

Batiha, K., Al-Salaimed, S. & Besoul, K. (2006). Digital art and design. In K. Markov & K. Ivanova (Eds), Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference: Information Research and Applications, (pp.187-192). Varna, Bulgaria: i.TECH.

Berger, A. (2008). Seeing is Believing: An Introduction to Visual Communication (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

David, A. & Glore, P.(2010, Winter). The impact of design and aesthetics on usability, credibility, and learning in an online environment. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 10(4), University of West Georgia, Distance Education Center

Freeman, S. (2011, March). My Final Project- Ashford University CGD218. Available at:

Freeman, S. (2011b, March) Give peace a chance—the Buddha (graphic image). Available at:

Glossary (2012). Design and visual communications (graphics). New Zealand Qualifications Authority website at:

One Great Tear of Mankind (1998).Retrieved from the Sunkara Church of Higher Spiritualism Inc. at:

Parrish, P. E. (2004). Investigating the aesthetic decisions of teachers and instructional designers. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA. Available online at*pparrish/

Parrish, Patrick, E. (2007). Aesthetic principles for instructional design, Educational Technology Research and Development (ETRD

Synthea Freeman

Revised October 12, 2013


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