What's the place of a graphic designer in the Open Source world?
Considering the fundamentals1 of graphic design, an answer could be about: leadership, solving problems and communication.2 Those skills and that vision are valuable assets for project management, and art direction generally, as well as for learning, and contributing to, software development itself3(skills),4(git). From a real world problem solving perspective, graphic design and programming both solve problems, and are most certainly complementary, while often being overlaid within distinct solutions. Furthermore, even the designs of old were rendered through displays, although interaction with a rock face was minimal. Graphic design is a persistent language, the support and expression of which must be safeguarded and promoted.5 Consequently, their place could extend from the edge to the center of open source.
1. From wikipedia on graphic design:
Graphic design is the methodology of visual communication, and
problem-solving through the use of type, space and image. The field is
considered a subset of visual communication and communication design,
but sometimes the term "graphic design" is used interchangeably with
these due to overlapping skills involved. Graphic designers use
various methods to create and combine words, symbols, and images to
create a visual representation of ideas and messages. A graphic
designer may use a combination of typography, visual arts and page
layout techniques to produce a final result. Graphic design often
refers to both the process (designing) by which the communication is
created and the products (designs) which are generated.
See some typical reminder of the impact of graphic designs, old and new(1 2 3 4). Thereby also follows some acknowledged principles of the trade:
Some of the most commonly acknowledged principles of design are
alignment, balance, contrast, proximity, repetition, and white space.
These are all elements of graphic design "composition." Additionally,
compositions are evaluated based on the use of (and the successes or
failures of) harmony, emphasis, gestalt, pattern, movement, rhythm,
proportion, and unity.
2. Since this is also generally communication (more specifically graphic communication) then R&D, experimenting, teaching, and writing about graphic design should be welcome. One cannot see the need for something they haven't been trained for; it is also up to the people who know to help explain graphic design to specific audiences outside the field. As designs do tell something and constitute solutions to different problems, a graphic designer should naturally, in the context you provide, research and seek out material challenges, and people, according to their interests and values. Bringing insight, and creating a breadth of solutions which may be useful to one or many other projects, free from commercial imperatives. So initiating projects, creating free designs, documenting, showcasing, and actively contributing to the distribution of such designs - as an expressive human method for problem solving, and for providing a unique outlook into our world, including that of the designer(s) or artist(s) - whether in solo or within a community, should also prove essential. Designs have a legacy of meanings and people want to know. Applying the graphic design methods in other fields through interdisciplinary endeavors may be mutually benefecial and cast further insight into graphic design itself.
4. As for version control systems, there is no reason git couldn't be used for other purposes than strict software development. And it has(see also sth. like this DIY). Furthermore git supports image differentiating, including for the PSD format. In this context, it can be leveraged even for contributing purely graphical projects. A design could be contributed which would possibly ripple for a very long time. Assuredly other platforms exist; sustainability and licensing should always be a scrutinized.
5. Please engage in, ask questions about and contribute to, licensing. For instance researching and assessing the licensing schemes available, the artistic or type related licenses, Open Content, the licensing used for a specific project etc. according to the different graphic designers' needs, and the values a graphic designer holds themself to. And clearly leveraging the chosen license(s) for personal contributions. A designer should know which license(s) they would choose to use should they contribute a free design, and why imho. This is a freedom which past designers didn't have. Finding a balance between acknowledgment and reuse, and so many copyright related issues are still open for discussion. Established professionals can also contribute small endowments for research in the field. Don't leave licensing solely in the hands of legal if you want it to reflect what graphic designers want!