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Socially Conscious Graphic Design

Socially Conscious Graphic Design

Communication, Arts & Culture, Environment

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  • Social Studies: Educating Designers in a Connected World

    Arts & Culture, Communication Design


    This October sees the latest AIGA design educators' conference address the social aspects of graphic design.

    The event entitled Social Studies: Educating Designers in a Connected World, will be hosted by the Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore) on October 17-19, 2008. Co-chaired by Ellen Lupton, Jennifer Cole Phillips and fellow DesignSessions contributer Brockett Horne.

    "Graphic designers work with clients, institutions, users, and communities to make things happen in the world. Yet education often focuses on the individual voice. How are we preparing students for a lifetime of working with and for other people? How are our students connecting to the world?"

    With the intention to host "dozens of presentations and workshops led by designers, educators, and graduate students", this promises to be a thoroughly engaging conference.

  • Sustainability and Graphic Design

    Environment, Communication Design


    Why is Graphic Design so afraid to embrace the sustainability challenge?

    During the first few months writing for sustainability design blog, it became immediately and increasingly evident how many designers were bathing in the new challenges of sustainability. The worlds of fashion, architecture, interior and product design continued to excel with an ecological conscience, launching countless contemporary designs every week. Although not focused to the work of Graphic Design, taking a quick look around Inhabitat it is evident a sense of contemporary Communication Design is appreciated. Critical dialogue however, discussing the relevant relationships between sustainability and graphic design, is almost vacant (with no more than 15-20 graphic-related features on the site). This, it would seem is a recurring trend in the sustainable design communities.

    I was therefore, excited to have read this week that respectable designer, writer and critic Anna Gerber is currently writing a new book on Graphic Design and Sustainability, which will be published by Laurence King in Spring 2009. I look forward to her book and hope it will open the eyes of Communication Designers, give them a friendly kick in a sustainable direction and ultimately help our discipline play catch up to the rest of the creative industry.

    Designer and author of the 2004 publication All Messed Up, Unpredictable Graphics, Anna Gerber continues to write extensively for the likes of Creative Review, Pri...

  • Creative For A Cause

    Education, Communication Design


    Last night I came across a magnificent online resource and initiative dedicated to socially conscious design, its name Creative For A Cause.

    Founded and set up by Syracuse senior and fellow D21 member Heidi Cies, Creative For A Cause (A Resource for Visual Communications Educators) aims to assist teaching social responsibility in design education.

    "While social responsibility is being discussed more and more frequently within the Visual Communications industry and among educators today, no standards or guidelines currently exist to aid in the implementation of these concepts into the higher education curriculum. Where social responsibility is not already part of a Visual Communications program, and there is little or no administrative support for inclusion, it is left to individual instructors to decide how to best integrate this topic into their syllabi. This site is a collaborative resource for educators of Visual Communications who wish to instruct their students on the importance of adopting a social and ethical approach to their work. If you know of additional resources that you feel would be of value, please contact us." (Heidi Cies, Creative For A Cause).

    Heidi, well done - this is a fantastic project that is certainly going to prove extremely useful. I look forward to our future conversations.

  • Social Justice 2008

    Communication, Communication Design


    Earlier this month, Armin Vit wrote an interesting review of renowned artist and designer Luba Lukova latest poster collection, Social Justice 2008.

    Armin Vit: "Social Justice is a very satisfying collectible for any graphic designer. Individually or as a group, these posters are a reminder of how much can be achieved through such economic visual means." "Social Justice 2008 is a powerful portfolio that features 12 thought-provoking posters by world-renowned artist and designer Luba Lukova. This collection swiftly and ably showcases Lukova's masterful use of metaphors and symbols to express themes that include peace, war, ecology, immigration, and privacy. Her distinctive style and vigorous visual imagination distill issues such as these into deceptively simple, yet formidably brilliant images, images that not only transfix, but that have the power to become indelible."

  • Communication Designers Need to Catch Up Fast

    Communication, Communication Design


    Feature written for DesignSessions: Are You a Good Designer?

    When I was first asked to contribute a piece on design ethics to Design Sessions: Notes on Design, I wondered how I could credibly comment on such a complex and highly academic topic. Whilst sitting at the early stages of my creative career, I wondered how many of us really understand what it means to be a “good” designer, and asked myself, if and how, I am a “good” (socially-responsible) designer?

    Design Ethics

    Throughout every stage of my creative training, I have echoed the belief that design is “quintessentially an ethical process” (Devon and Poel 2002). I strongly believe that Communication Design has a positive and negative ability to affect social change, but recognize that its influential power should be treated with respect and careful consideration, of its use, from all its designers.

    Ethics is not an appendage to design but an integral part of it, and we advocate using the moral imagination to draw out the ethical implications of a design. We will stress and develop the social ethics paradigm, because design is an iterative social process for making technical and social decisions that may itself be designed at each stage with different people at the table, different information flows, different normative relationships, different authority structures, and different social and environmental considerations in mind. […] One might make the distinction that professional ethics is concerned with...

  • Conversations and Dialogue: Graphic Design for the Future

    Communication, Communication Design


    London College of Communication are hosting the New Views 2 Symposium and Exhibition this coming July, entitled "Conversations and Dialogue in Graphic Design". Although the call for papers is now closed, the conference registration is online and a call for poster submissions is underway.

    "By facilitating large and smaller more focused groups of delegates, New Views 2, aims to identify the challenges we are currently facing in graphic design, but more importantly proposing potential ways forward."

    The suggested themes that New Views 2 may cover:

    • Problems of defining terminology: visual communication, communication design, graphic design, information environments.
    • The role of graphic design for the ‘real world’.
    • Graphic design and interdisciplinarity.
    • Graphic design and research methods.
    • Design writing/criticism and repositioning the debate.
    • Practice-led PhD research in the field of graphic design.
    • Responsive curriculums and shifting paradigms.
    • Research, innovation and new critical thinking.

    New Views 2 has asked for poster submissions that "through the use of graphic language, address the issues and the core themes of the conference and demonstrate the use of graphic design as a means to critique and reflect upon its future." Individuals or groups, Design students, Design Faculty and Professional Design Studio submissions were all welcome (more details on the website) and the selected works will be included in the traveling exhibition an...

  • Oxfam 'Be Humankind' ad

    Communication, Communication Design

    I have just seen the latest television commercial from Oxfam. The charity's new TV ad, created by ad agency RKCR, underlines the range of global issues on which it campaigns.

  • Design Conferences = Overblown and Conceptually Thin

    Communication, Communication Design


    Ever since Jody Boehnert forwarded me a link to Rick Poynor's recent critique of Design Conferences (for <a href="">Creative Review</a>), I have not stopped thinking about the discussion. This is a very topical critique and a highly recommended read for D21 readers.

    Admittedly, the celebrity culture that has developed in the design industry is not something I have followed since being a student, however I am quite shocked at some monochrome responses that have appeared after the article. It would seem apparent there is a certain dichotomy of designers around today, as one respondent comments:

    When I read these comments it becomes clear to me the great spectrum that exists in the design world. Splashing around in the shallow end are those that play at making things pretty. And far on the other side there are those that are actually engaging in this great human process called communication.

    As Poynor explains, many conferences have become a form of exhibition, a showcase of "famous" design work, however we must consider that students will forever love the opportunity to meet/see/admire their favourite designers (and there is nothing wrong with admiring your idols).

    As we develop into professionals however, there is certainly more to learn and think about than “new tricks and computer skills”. If everyone just learns how to recreate the same thing, designers will evolve into nothing but another form of t...

  • Green. Who Cares?

    Environment, Communication Design


    London based Composite Projects compiled this great report on green consumer behaviour and green branding.

    Including articles from contributing environmental companies, it offers a real way for us to approach green businesses. The design integrated the packaging into the cover and used only recycled materials and eco friendly printing. Great work and agency!

    - Composite Projects

  • Don't Abandon Your Morals For Money

    Communication, Communication Design


    The third great poster I found this morning comes from MFA Graphic Designer at SVA in New York and Central Saint Martins graduate, Steve Haslip.

    "This poster was made during my first semester class with the exceedingly wise Milton Glaser. The issue at hand was dealing with design ethics, and in an attempt to tackle the subject and further pitch my point I drew the entire image using a single line."

Whenever I draw a circle, I immediately want to step out of it. Buckminster Fuller

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