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Graphic Design Fundamentals: Getting Started

Lesson 18 of 18

Fundamentals are Forever

Timothy Samara

Graphic Design Fundamentals: Getting Started

Timothy Samara

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Lesson Info

18. Fundamentals are Forever
Timothy closes where he begins - with the fundamentals. What is the mission of the designer? What can you learn from the history of the discipline? How will trusting the process of discovery push your practice to the next level?

Lesson Info

Fundamentals are Forever

We're bringing it all together, we've just brought it all together in terms of sort of the range of practice areas and sort of kinds of media and image because the fundamentals are forever no matter how complex or simple the project, no matter how seasoned a designer you are or how much of a newbie, you're always coming back to the same principles, the same ideas over and over again in the same way that a wheel is shaped a particular way because it does something, the principles that we have been talking about work a particular way, they affect our perception in a particular way and our minds in particular ways and we can never ignore them. So, just some thoughts to live by, and this is a little bit of a recap, we really talked about to kind of understand what it is that designers do and always remember why you're designing, you're not designing for you, you're designing for other people, you're solving a problem, you're trying to make the world a better place, you're trying to connect...

people, you're trying to elevate our lives as humans. We talked about so the evolution of the profession and I think it's important no matter what area you're working in is that part of your expertise comes from knowing the history of your discipline. So, you want to know why it is that designers think a certain way about certain kinds of things, where did that come from and what is it, you know what knowledge are we building upon as we move forward, and of course history is a great source not only of inspiration, but also for problem solving because chances are in the last four to five hundred years somebody has encountered a similar kind of a problem and they've done it already and you can learn from that. The next is to choose and use your tools wisely as that is to understand what you have available to you. What's in the toolbox, there's so many options, and you know people run to certain go-to's. I want a really clean photograph of this, I want an icon for that. It should look this way, explore. You'll have imagery of so many different kinds, whether it's abstract or pictorial, color is a rich and powerful part of the communication medium that you really want to get in touch with. Typography is a very very dynamic component of designing and layout is the thing that pulls all those things together into a place, so you want to investigate those really carefully, and that actually is what we'll be covering tomorrow form an image color, typography, and layout segment by segment throughout the day. So, it will be really diving into each of those sort of tool areas in tremendous detail. And last is to follow a rich and thorough process is don't jump to conclusions, don't preconceive, don't try to see the end result in advance, is allow the process of discovery to take you to where that communication needs to go and to let it live in the best way possible. Now, your turn.

Class Description


  • Identify and apply fundamental graphic design elements
  • Add essential design skills to your toolkit
  • Approach and manage the creative process through varied projects


You don’t need to have a background in fine arts or be an Adobe InDesign whiz to create compelling designs. In this class, Timothy Samara takes you back to the fundamentals of graphic design - the same principles he has consistently returned to in his 25-year career.

Through real-world projects, you’ll learn the basics of:

  • Form and image
  • Color theory
  • Typography
  • Layout and composition

Most unique about Timothy’s class is his demonstration of how design theory manifests in actual projects; he cracks open his professional portfolio and takes you into the world of how real designers work. With an extensive career behind him, Timothy’s design services have spanned from web design to print media, to interface design, and to building brand identity. By walking through Timothy’s creative process, you not only see how design elements interact and impact an overall product, but you get a rare view of the problem-solving graphic designers do and the decisions they make. What rules exist and when are they broken? How do you juggle meticulous research vs. spontaneity?

Whether you want to design a poster, flyer, or logo - this class will give you the insights you need to design with confidence. Welcome to the art and science of graphic design.


This class is designed for beginner and intermediate graphic designers as well as more experienced designers looking for a brush-up on design principles, career-changers, marketing team members, and anyone interested in graphic design fundamentals.


Timothy Samara is a New York-based graphic designer and educator whose twenty-five career has so far focused on visual identity and branding, communication design, and typography. Since 2000, he has split his time between professional practice and academia, defining a highly respected reputation as an instructor at the School of Visual Arts, Parsons/The New School for Design, Purchase College SUNY, New York University, The University of the Arts, and Fashion Institute of Technology. Mr. Samara is a frequent university lecturer and contributor to design publications both in the U.S. and abroad. He has written eight books on design to date (all from Rockport Publishers), which have been translated into ten languages and are used by students and practitioners around the world.

Connect with Timothy online: LinkedIn

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a Creativelive Student

Wonderful class! I loved getting the info as to the creative process. Great!

sixtina maculan

Thank you for sharing your experiences in this class. It's been a pleasure to listen, learn and understand, as well as a wonderful motivation.

Øyvind Hermans

I love this class, clear and precise information with very interesting examples. I have worked as a graphic designer for 6 years but have no design eduction, so at times I feel like there is these gaps of design-knowlegde in my decisions, this was the perfect filler of these gaps.