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Unfortunately when I responded to Michael Morris's original post, I retyped the subject line with an initial capital G, making it harder to locate it in a search of the archives--so maybe that helps explain why his questions have slipped away from us on this thread.
Here's what Michael asked:
"1. As a technical writer, what does graphic design mean to you?
2. Do you use elements of graphic design in your work?
3. Do you simply need to understand it?
4. Or both?
5. What graphic design software do you use?"
I'd like to reiterate that--although there are technical communicators whose skill set includes good technical comprehension, strong writing & editing abilities, and the ability to *create* as well as manipulate graphics (not to mention the inability to resist carrying rebuttals to their illogical extreme)--these individuals are rare birds indeed. In fact, they are probably even less common than the Verbithroated Codehatch (the creature who not only warbles manuals and online help in perfect tune but also soars with the eagles who design & write applications).
I currently happen to be working at The Weather Channel, which has the good sense *not* to ask me to design weather maps, forecast displays, thunderstorm icons, etc. (And I have the good sense not to pass myself off as having those skills.)
When I worked at IBM doing computer-based training, I did crappy little pencil sketches on storyboards, which a real artist used to do real illustrations. I wouldn't dream of trying to do that work. I am glad to pitch in with simple graphic work when asked to do so--but don't send a writer to do a graphic artist's job.
tomcampbell -at- EUDORAMAIL -dot- COM
"It's as large as life
and twice as natural!"