AnyWAy ouT

Any way out?

Graphic design is a great practice. We love it. It is fun. People love it. It is “cool”. Practicing it is both sentimentally engaging and mentally proving. It is a passion first. I believe that doesn’t exist any designer in this world that doesn’t love his/her job and in most cases it all started as a simple passion and familiarity with different mediums such as drawing, painting or photography. Graphic design is a broad science and art that allows those who practice it to develop and explore different field of creativity and art in order to best achieve the final goal of conveying a precise, clear, engaging, appealing and straightforward message. As Neville Brody puts it, “The way something is presented will define the way you react”. This could be drawn as the essential basis of graphic design, the ambition of every productive and effective graphic designer. Being able to define the way in which your audience react to your art work. Visceral subliminal attraction and seduction is welcome as long as the message is firmly implanted in as many people’s mind as possible. Desire comes from the attraction to what is beautiful. We, graphic designers make things beautiful- or at least try to. If interested in finer detail on this subject matter check out “The ecstasy of communication” by Jean Bouillard. Exhaustive and meticulous marketing research drawn from doubtfully ethical techniques, squads of psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and scientists- all this human force, energy and money to effectively convey the message. Any technique is welcome, even the most cheesy and exotic crafts as long as the holy blessed message is adequately perceived by the audience we aim to communicate to. This is just astonishing, incredible, and fascinating.

If all this forces are employed to convey a message- you might puritanically think and maybe hopefully wish that this immense effort is spent for a good cause which is fair, moral and ethical for the communal good of society. This is not a nostalgic philosophy belonging to the past, aiming to provide something fair for the community has got to be a basis to start from. Instead the mere final goal and purpose of the graphic design is to keep the consumption machine working and growing at everyone expenses. Beauty and creativity at the service of evil. As Papanek state in his book “Design for the real work” (1985) we, graphic designer are the “handmaiden of capitalism”, we are like the make up artist that transform an ugly face into a pretty, candid, buyable one. Conceal pimples and spots that for as much ugly and nasty they could be they are still part of the natural true reality. A proper camouflage. We are the connection between the consumerism machine and the public. We cover up and allay the horrifying and terrible attributes of this profit-orientated greedy companies. Another metaphor could easily be the one with the church. Exactly as the holy church we lye to the public. Be both take the message from one end (god or companies), work on it and then portray to the public the a new fake, profitable reality. We both create realities. Note the silly juxtaposition of the word “create” and “reality”. Still reading from Papanek’s book “There are professions more harmful than design, but only a very few of them…Today, design has put mass murder on a mass production basis.” This assumption might be a bit to drastic and dramatic as well as pessimistic but certainly we’ve got to acknowledge the active role of our loved profession in the promotion and developing of the capitalist society- part of the society that sees individual merely as possible buyer or consumer. The welfare of people is not fundamental.

Is also to be acknowledged that we, graphic designer, only exists because of this capitalist approach of society. No capitalism, no graphic design- or at least at this in large scale. The question is whether or not there is a way to escape with sad whirlpool? Do we have to patiently subdue to this overwhelming reality? Can we disguise this reality instead of always embellish the materialism’s reality? What can we, as communicators, do in order to cope with our social duty of working in the interest of society?

We need a shift in the core of our job. The message that we are sending has got to change. No more, you need to buy this. No more, you need this in order be “cool”. You want a new of this or that. The one that you have is fine. It works, is fine. There is an hopeful new wave of design that is as much exciting as challenging which is called designism, this is a new field of design created to “support the creative needs of non-profit and connect them with the creative’s willing to give their time and talent to causes”, quote from Project ranging from ecology, education, Africa, freedom, pollution, peace, social deprivation, human rights, aids, diseases, nature, family, freedom of expression, homeless, animal protection, health, internet accessibility. This is just to name a few. This project is been conceived in 2006 with an initial great success and press coverage with big names participating to the talks and debates such as Milton Glaser, George Lois, Kurt Andersen and many more- how contradicting. You design for all your life for petrol companies, huge corporations and then after decades of this beneficial and profitable practice you fill up your mouth with pleasant, heartening and hopeful word. Anyway, this is not a matter only restricted to the graphic design sphere, it is a global social change that we all need to undertake in to get values and a way of living which is more natural and pleasant in the true real sense. As you can see there is plenty of ground to develop projects that carry and convey a message worth hours of the designer’s work. A sea of possibilities is waiting for us. Let’s take the chance to make a step back in order to create something which is not only profitable but can also happily coexist with our inner spirit’s values.

Otherwise, we can keep going covering our eyes and carry on doing our “cool” job.

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