Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Can Graphic Design bring about positive social change?

This is the "Biblioburro"
For me the short answer is yes. It does this simply by making the world a more beautiful place. And even though a lot of graphic design via advertising does contribute to problems like overconsumption, mental health and environmental degradation. it can also help to address these problems. There seems to be an increasing willingness by the industry to address these concerns and look to a wider role available for Graphic Designers.

The tools, technologies and techniques of graphic communication can profoundly alter our relationship to the world, to power and to each other. David Berman writes in "Do Good Design", The same design that fuels mass overconsumption also holds the power to repair the world. "

There are lots of Graphic design projects around the world that have as their basic aim, improving human and environmental wellbeing. There are agencies around the world that have this as there core aim, and still make enough for their staff to live on. It is this work and these agencies that I want to focus on in my report.

Some Examples are:

-The Good 50x70 poster projects supported by big name designers like Massimo Vignelli asks the graphic design community to confront critical issues affecting today's world .

-The recent Australian Graphic Design Association competition asked designers "to challenge the notion that design is only about beautiful things and show that design has a greater value and it is in this value that design can effect real change."

-The Aspen design conference, while not graphic design as such, gather designers to find solutions to real problems in the third world.

-The First Things First Manifesto which proposes a reversal of priorities in Graphic Design in favour of more useful and more lasting forms of communication

-An increasing emphasis on "Design Thinking" as necessary for solving the worlds problems.

-Various agencies and individuals who practically use design as a tool for positive social change, (and make enough money to survive!)

In my unashamedly idealistic report I hope to provide an overview of these and other options for graphic designers who want to use their skills to make the world a better and place.

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