Who is “The Visual Communication Guy”?
Hi, there! Thank you for visiting my website. My name is Curtis Newbold, in case you’re curious, and I’m the writer/developer/designer of this website. I love communication and I love visuals, so it was natural for me to spend a good portion of my life working on a PhD in a program from Clemson University called Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design.
As a communications professor and consultant, I teach and advise adults and businesses on a wide variety of subjects related to human communication. In fact, I’ve taught and consulted in all kinds of fun stuff, including information design, layout, desktop publishing, editing, business writing, public speaking, professional communication, web development and design, popular science journalism, wayfinding design, infographics, rhetoric, and well, you get the point. My passion (perhaps strange obsession), however, is in visual communication. I have taught college courses now for about eleven years and the more I do it, the more I realize a somewhat bizarre phenomenon: visual communication, as pervasive as it is, is a literacy skill few people have. I guess you could say that it has become my strange desire to help spread the word.
At my core, you could say that I’m a sucker for good design. I’m persuaded by it, I believe it’s good for society, and I have fun learning about it and trying to practice it. And I think it’s as important for others to be literate in visual communication these days as it is to know the fundamentals of grammar. So, here I am, building a whole website on the topic. Perhaps I’m just a little bit crazy.
Currently, I’m in the communication department at Westminster College in Salt Lake City and I’m the program director of our Master’s of Strategic Communication program. When I’m not designing and teaching, I’m outside. After all, raw nature is the best visual communicator.
Please see my curriculum vita for information about my professional background.
Who Else Contributes?
Hi! I’m Alisa Scott, the digital content developer intern for this website. I am a communication student at Westminster College with a minor in English. I enjoy the areas of visual communication, design, writing, social media, advertising and public relations. Although still undecided on what I want to be when I grow up, I am currently aspiring to work in public relations. When I’m not studying or working, I can be found experiencing various worlds through books and television or hanging around on social media.
What is Visual Communication?
In a nutshell, visual communication is the stuff (neon lights, parking signs, cereal boxes, bumper stickers, resumes, olive oil labels) around us that persuade us to buy or to move or to act because of how our brain reacts to what our eyes see. Our reactions to visual communications can be visceral, emotionally charged, culturally-influenced, logically concluded, or affected simply by personal taste. After all, I’ll be the first to admit that I choose my shampoo based on how the bottle looks (and my wife just rolls her eyes at me!).
But good visual communication isn’t just about duping people into emptying their pockets on commodities like shampoo (at least, not entirely—that’s for the marketing wizards). Good visual communication, simply put, is good for people. It makes us all feel better about our products, our choices, our lifestyles. Good visual communication is good for safety (think easy-to-read road signs), multicultural communication (like when you’re in Paris, and you look for the restroom signs, but don’t speak a lick of French), and learning (like completing instructions or viewing a diagram in your organic chemistry class.) Good visual communication also sends a message of professionalism and commitment to the people we are communicating to—just as much as grooming and cleanliness communicate attitudes and interest in others. Visual communication affects our moods, our expectations, and our choices. Think about the ease (or pain) of navigating an airport or museum. The placement of signs within an architectural space is an important form of visual communication called “Wayfinding.” Good signage makes us feel comfortable and we, even tacitly and unconsciously, appreciate it. And so it goes for all good visual communication.
Why create a website about visual communication?
Because visual communication is cool. It’s also very important, but a widely forgotten literacy skill taught in schools. I have come to realize that while there are plenty of good resources out there for aspiring and professional graphic artists to improve design, there isn’t a great central location for everyday visual communicators, like you and me. I don’t consider myself a professional graphic designer, but I communicate visually everyday with the stuff I produce (anything from course syllabi to instructions). For professionals and regular Joes alike, I hope this site can bring a community together to boost our visual literacy.
When we consciously think about how we communicate visually, we realize the impact on the people we are communicating to. Some of the impact is visceral and fleeting. Much of the impact, though, affects how people literally act and feel. If our visual communication is poor, think about what that makes people do and how that makes people feel! I want people to make good choices, ones they feel confident in, and I want people to feel good when being communicated to. Don’t we all?