Graphic Designers have to take stock. As a profession we must own up to our part of the problem, and take responsibility in the roles we have played in collaborating on this latest free market collapse. We are accountable because we create the identities for corporations, which produce products we all consume. Who really cares if Coke wins over Pepsi, the stockholders due. I don't drink either; I used to drink bottled water, which is problematic in and of itself. I now carry a water bottle. It is a game of divide and concur market share. Along with choice comes personal responsibility, which we have not owned up very well over the last 30 years.
The generation from the 1960's had an expression "Tune In, Drop Out", to express they're unwillingness to support corruption. This was also the last generation to face challenges as difficult as ours. Since Vietnam, the last great clash of conscience (one which still has its casualties). We have repeatedly fallen for false signals but have managed to remain intact. As we see stock prices plummet and companies fail we are quickly realizing that the free ride is over, we all must be more accountable for our actions. I am cautiously optimistic in this generation that we have learned our lessons and we will strive to not repeat past mistakes.
As Graphic Designers we are the thinkers and the symbol makers. We draw attention to information and worthwhile causes. We also create identities for agra-business, land developers, and energy companies. And we also consume a disproportionate amount of paper products to produce the ad campaigns and corporate communications. It is one thing to say you are environmentally aware, but altogether much more difficult to be it. We have to make quick progress to innovate and be more self determined.
The time is here to collectively work hard on new models that are focused on creating solutions that considers the future, not just the bottom line. Are we powerless to organize and say our model of society is broken, no, we choose every day in what we buy, every four years in who represents us. The solutions are not revolutionary they are simple. Turn off the T.V. for starters. Listen to people with ideas on the fringe, they don't care about popularity, and they may just have some merit. We have to stop perpetuating the free market myths of choice and the desire for more. Choices are only an option if we can act responsibly, and carefully consider what we consume. Stop and think.
We cannot all become vigilantes. Lawlessness would ensue. But we can and must be held accountable for our actions. Everyone deserves to work to support his or her families. Many people can't due to lack of training and opportunities. Is this fair? The myth of a welfare state is one created by its opponents. We must act to bring up those less fortunate. The taxpayer gives permission to their representative in expectation of services. Not so corporations can create more wealth, for themselves. We must be aware that greed in the end serves no one, accept its own purpose. The "me first mentality" is corrupting and will only bring us all down.
So many talented voices and thoughtful ideas go unheard because many cannot afford the high cost of admission. Where is the equality? I think we could reinstate a job corps or a revised WPA. Lets create a federally funded apprenticeship program, which anyone can qualify for. A federal deficit in the name of the people, where is the problem? No, we have an expectation of fair play and that we get what we pay for. As stock prices fall, we cannot continue to beholden to artificial systems of goods and services. What about a system based on fair play and hard work, not nepotism and stock options.
The information is available in magazines like Seed and Good and websites like Design Observer and Dexigner, all examples vividly demonstrate the power of information. Now it is up to us to make it accessible to more people. This is the designers’ primary role; we must not forget that we also work for the public and in the interest of progress. Not only for a paycheck in the service of a bottom line. We must show that with design and concerted effort, good decisions are possible. Help companies deliver more clean technologies, brand dish soap or organic t-shirt and promote responsibly produced clothing.
The idea is to perpetuate new ideas about consumerism, one that is principally think first and act second. And as designers we must make it easy to join this club, and make everyone feel included. I think that is why most of us became designers in the first place, so we can have an effect and create work that stands for our principles.