Citizen Designer: perspectives on design responsibility

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“Graphic designers have the power to influence people — by designing the products they buy, the magazines they read, the information they receive to vote, what they shop for, and in many more ways than most are aware of. What they design has a strong social repercussion in the every-day world of hundreds, thousands or even millions of people (think I [heart] NY by Milton Glaser). What they do for a living every day, can and will impact at least one life.” Source: Overview

This book inspired me to look deeper into how people interpret design and how it affects them. Though i only got through about half of the book, i felt as if i could not stop reading even if i wanted. I learned designers have the power to persuade the general public in many ways. Maybe most importantly, the power of giving political figures an image that everyone will see and recognize them as. It’s completely up to the designer to persuade the public whether this politician is good, or not. Should we as artists have this much power over what people see everyday? Should we be held accountable for every design? I think that’s something for everyone and every designer to decide for themselves.

 

 

Good or Bad?

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This is also a questionable design for me to look at. For i know that guns kill people (just as cigarettes do) and no average man really needs an assault rifle. This design is targeted at men who feel the need to represent themselves to a higher standard. Thinking yeah, an M16 would make me badass this advertisement is totally right, i could be a new man with this huge automatic rifle. But as a consequence of this design, some poor soul out there might have avoided being shot at in the first place. I think designers underestimate the power we hold when given the opportunity to influence people through artistic innovation. Uncle Sam “only wanted you” because a designer made a great poster that said he did.

Might Be A Bad Idea

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Even thought this MIGHT be a healthier alternative to smoking a real cigarette, is it morally right to design something that could kill you? Oviously this design was targeted at people who like to smoke but KNOW that it’s bad for them. Seeing this on a bilboard could convince a person that this is a better way to smoke instead of quitting smoking all together.

Turning a product from something that causes cancer and many other debilitating diseases into something that is represented as “green” and “electric” is all just a great design ploy to grab customers and their wallets. The way the gradient goes into the design and how the type is treated makes it look as if smoking is actually healthy for you, and natural in a sense. Which most people know isn’t the case at all.

Research Project Ideas

Sitting in Bill’s beautiful house trying to brainstorm on research project ideas has started off harder than expected. Looking back to Bill’s lecture on caring and being interested, finding a question that relates to graphic design which is relevant enough to keep me interested is difficult. I have to first start by asking every question that comes to mind about my major.

  • Who is the company?
  • What do they represent?
  • Who is their targeted audience?
  • What kind of message are they trying to send?
  • Why do they need new designs?
  • Is designing for this company ethical? moral? (knowing that supporting a great design for a company that hurts people is immoral, one would have to decide if designing for this said company is okay or not) – for example making a kick ass logo for a cigarette company might not be moral depending on how you might see things.
  • What do i get out of designing on the computer?
  • How would people see me through the designs i create?

On Language Nerds and Nags

Robert Lane Greene, a well renound journalist and bussiness correspondent based in Brooklyn, is fluent in five languages can converse in three others. He is mostly popular for his book You Are What You Speak. The article i read relating to him revolves around how we interpret someone’s written or spoken grammar. I thought this was very interesting because i am always thinking of how people see the word in a literal design sense, and how they would interpret, rather than how they would say it or write it. Greene goes on to describe how the conception of grammar is said to be black and white, in a metaphorical sense. Meaning that when something is written correctly, then every other way to write or say that same something would be incorrect. “If x is permitted then y is forbidden.” (Language pg 99) I agree completely with Greene when he states that there could be many correct ways to write the same sentence depending on the circumstances.

When i relate this to graphic design i think, yeah there is no single correct way to design anything. Depending on the conventions of your dicipline, one could come up with a thousand designs that all work with what you are trying to convey without being penalized for it. Also i have come to realize that there are many contradicting conventions to each dicipline. Some professional designers think using gradient in type faces work with some logos and others say to never use gradients in any design, no matter what. The truth is, going back to Greene, both are correct. An amazing design such as the windows symbol for HP computers, the BMW symbol, and the Apple computer logo would never have been perfected without the use of a gradient, even though gradients are said to be a  “no no” in the design community.