(2017) Skills for Creativity in Graphic Design: Testing the relationship between visualisation, written comprehension, and graphic design creativity

This research explores the relationship between skills, creativity and domain. It is situated within an evolving topic of design creativity; an emerging field that interfaces between creativity research, which has often occurred in the field of psychology, and design research often associated with the fields of engineering, art and design.

Through five interconnected studies, and the domain of graphic design as the basis for experimentation, the research culminates in testing the relationship between creative output and skills considered important for competent performance in graphic design.

How to assess graphic design creativity in a manner credible to both the creativity research and design research community has been a core challenge for this thesis. The method selected – the Consensual Assessment Technique (CAT) – before this research project had yet to be used as a reliable measure of graphic design creativity in experimental research. For this reason, three of the studies were directed at establishing the reliability of the CAT.

  • One undertook the first systematic literature review of the CAT in design research;
  • a second tested the assumption that a graphic design CAT would show acceptable levels of inter-rater reliability (as researchers had found in other domains of design);
  • a third focused on optimising the CAT to measure graphic design creativity.

Additionally, given the wide range of graphic design competencies available, a conceptual framework was developed to prioritise those most important, and suitable, for experimental study. Two were identified (mental visualisation, and written comprehension) and each was tested for its relationship to graphic design creativity.

Where other researchers have suggested or found a relationship, in this study, no significant correlations could be evidenced for either mental visualisation or written comprehension with creative output. Such a finding is likely counter-intuitive to many in art and design, thus, the implications of this study impact upon debates within design creativity research, design education, and graduate skill gaps for the Creative Industries.