the refrain goes something like this, “i know the client/service/product isn’t very good, but at least i got to do good design for it, right?” wrong.
good design is, well, good. and that’s what makes it all the more harmful when it’s applied to a harmful product/service. i’ve heard this line of thinking applied to unhealthy foods, culture crushing mega-retailers, deceptively marketed cosmetic products, lower-income family fleecing lottery games and more. all good design applied to harmful products/services does is make the deception that much more convincing. how is that virtuous?
i’m not saying don’t do design for fast food per se, but don’t make it look like something that it isn’t. mcdonald’s isn’t just saying “buy hamburgers a couple times a year” with their ads. they are very much selling a lifestyle. cool people, sitting around the table, laughing, having a good time, maybe even eating a salad, when in reality a lifestyle of mickey d’s will probably lead to obesity and acne.
one of the the new york lottery’s most recent ad campaigns had the slogan “yeah, that kind of rich.” how many people that play the ny lotto become “that kind of rich?” well, the odds are 195,200,000 says bookofodds.com which adds, “to put it in perspective, the odds are better that a randomly chosen american male happens to be george clooney.” becoming “that kind of rich” is furthest thing from what you should actually expect when you play the lotto.
still, maybe it seems super-benign to use good graphic design for the lotto, so let me blow this way out of proportion. imagine you’re at the latest AIGA event talking to this hip young designer who says to you, “yeah, i know it’s the nazi party, but man, they’re giving me such creative control and i’m gonna use what they’re paying me to fund my projects that really matter…”
previously i’ve written, albeit briefly, that graphic design is a language. and with graphic design, as with any other language, we can tell a beautiful (or ugly) truth, or we can tell a beautiful (or ugly) lie. (and perhaps someone would interject at this point about truth mixed with lies to which i respond, if it’s not the whole truth, it’s not the truth.)
so designer, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to be a beautiful truth-teller.
if an amateur activist with a felt-tip pen, a pot of paste and the most rudimentary graphic skills can make you pause, what might a more professionally conceived form of graphic activism accomplish?
sometime ago i wrote a few essays on beauty and posted them on what was, at the time, my website. that site is defunct now, but i do think there is some worth to these writings, so i’ll post them here. following is the first;
gPosts: ? - ?Load Next Page