"We must accept the fact that learning how to communicate with graphics, with music, with cinema, is just as important as communicating with words. Understanding these rules is as important as learning how to make a sentence work." - George Lucas
How many hours a day do we spend looking at electronic devices, from tvs to laptops, tablets to smartphones to ereaders and so on. All the websites we look at, the apps we use, the ads that flash across the screen every second - these are all designed to create a clear visual communication to its users. Visual communication encompasses a variety of topics including typography (how to manipulate text), composition (the way elements are arranged on a page), image manipulation, animation, color, use of space, symbolism, hierarchy, and pacing or timing. All of these things are being created using digital tools, and every student, no matter his or her future life plans will need to be adept at communicating his/her ideas in a clear, visual way. By learning the basic concepts and structures, students will not only be able to communicate visually, they will also be much more skilled at deciphering visuals that they come across.
The time that is spent in the average public school classroom on a topic like visual communication is practically nill. There is this false belief that because computer software comes with prefabbed elements, that the visual part will take care of itself. However, what ends up happening without any form of digital art training is that students make a jumbled mess out of the visuals, muddling their message to the viewer, even if their ideas are good. Even students who are normally strong in a traditional art class can have a difficult time translating the concepts they learn about visual art creation to the digital world. Everything the student has learned about color theory, composition, symbolism is trumped by the colorful cat photos that come with the latest software. It suddenly becomes difficult for a student to create anything original.
It’s clear that teachers are beginning to recognize the problem that their students are missing vital visual communication skills, but many schools lack resources and training for this topic. However, make no mistake, these basic digital art skills are vitally important to the success of today’s students. It’s difficult to know what the future will look like or what form technology will take - but in no uncertain terms, this is the visual communication generation. And since schools are often playing catch-up, it’s time to see digital art education not as an after school “enrichment” activity, but instead, one that is critical and absolutely a priority in a student’s schedule.
Read a great interview with George Lucas on this very subject: http://www.edutopia.org/lucas-visual-literacy