am i right in saying that we, as designers have a huge role to play in society.

missgiggles's picture

i mean in the way that we have a huge responsibily for all our actions may iit be ethical, political etc. designers in advertising etc influence people and have great impact on them? have you recently heard about the packaging dilemma and the fact that designers should be responsiblle in creating packaging from materials that can be recycled or are environment friendly because of all thye global warming and pollution and gree house gases we produce everyday but mind you, war and bombs tend to cause the most pollution and have the worst effects on green house gases. what are the government talking about? what else should a designer keep in mind in regards to helping the world and society in ethical, political, economical forms?

hrant's picture

It's not what you make, but why you make it that makes you to varying
degrees a designer, or an artist. Buildings, fonts, shoes is not the point.

hhp

Paul Cutler's picture

If you think small, there's a chance you won't become a jailer.

If you think big you will build the cells with glee…

peace

AzizMostafa's picture

Deleted

pattyfab's picture

Aziz - with all due respect - what planet are you on? I really have trouble making any sense out of your posts... Comments like the above just add to the amount of web page we have to scroll through - pushing the thread onto more than one page - without making (imho) any substantive contribution to the dialogue. Yes, flowers, we get it already.

I should add - if I sound grumpy it's in part because this site has been so buggy lately.

hrant's picture

Tellingly, he's from the same planet.
Arab poets have a long history of being radically lyrical. :-)

But the animated butterfly - now that's annoying.

hhp

AzizMostafa's picture

Earlier Posting and Butterfly removed to make Friends happy.

Christian Robertson's picture

How many other professions do you know of that have frequent conversations trying to convince themselves that they are important? I think it stems from the fact that most designers think that they should be important because their stuff can be seen everywhere. But deep down they know that they aren't really important at all, because it's xyz corp that is talking, not them.

If you want to say something profound, don't be a door to door salesman, be a preacher, teacher or philosopher. But you'll have to find your own audience, not the one that xyz corp buys for you.

hrant's picture

And a "Right on!" to you as well, Christian.
(I love this place - it really enjoys an exceptional degree of lucid candor.)

hhp

Paul Cutler's picture

I don't know about teacher part of this - my fiancée is a lecturer at USC and from what she tells me - it doesn't get much more corporate than that - they're the largest private employer in Los Angeles.

Granted teachers can play important roles in peoples lives but they also aren't free - most of them work for the state for instance.

It reminds me of when John Cage called Karlheinz Stockhausen a puppet of the state for taking West German money to finance his compositions…

peace

Dan Gayle's picture

I think it stems from the fact that most designers think that they should be important because their stuff can be seen everywhere. But deep down they know that they aren’t really important at all

That cuts, doesn't it? XYZ Corporation would rather use Billy from Accounting, who once used Photoshop, if they thought they could get away with it. Not one of us isn't replaceable, and that's the hard part about trying to be ethical and having clean consciences.

aluminum's picture

"How many other professions do you know of that have frequent conversations trying to convince themselves that they are important?"

Many of them do. Pick up any trade journal. ;o)

"I think it stems from the fact that most designers think that they should be important because their stuff can be seen everywhere. But deep down they know that they aren’t really important at all, because it’s xyz corp that is talking, not them."

Personally, I now tend to call myself a 'graphic designer who has come to the conclusion that graphic design isn't as important as we graphic designers like to think it is'. Alas, I can't figure out how to fit that on my business card. ;o)

"what else should a designer keep in mind in regards to helping the world and society in ethical, political, economical forms?"

The same things anyone else in any other profession should be keeping in mind.

William Berkson's picture

>many other professions do you know of that have frequent conversations trying to convince themselves that they are important?

Basically, all of them :)

Everybody wants to feel important. The truth is that we don't know our impact much beyond our family and work colleagues, with whom we have daily interaction.

In the 19th century the idea that grew up that artists were somehow the avant garde of social change, and that socially conscious art could change the world.

This idea is mainly laugable. And yet... I forget who it was, but someone who was a very intelligent observer, and there at the time, who said that it was the Beatles who really finished off the Soviet Communism. And this wasn't the 'power to the people, right on' rubbish that John later wrote, but the joy and happiness that radiated from their music. It was obvious that you could be really happy in London of the 60's. (I was there, and I was happy :) And there wasn't a lot of joy in the Soviet Union of the 60's evidently.

The basic thing is that if we live according to high ideals and ethical conduct we radiate good influence. How far it goes is not in our hands.

hrant's picture

Judging reality via celebrities generally backfires. Rich rock stars tend to be happy pretty much anywhere with people who adulate rich rock stars. And watching US television/movies misleads billions worldwide daily.

But I certainly agree that behavior is contagious, and living well is inspirational.

hhp

Paul Cutler's picture

Agreed. Personal interactions are the only hope. Drop the rock in the pond and let it reverberate. The people who want to reach out and "touch someone" are the truly scary ones.

peace

Dan Gayle's picture

And this wasn’t the ‘power to the people, right on’ rubbish that John later wrote

Name that Rock Star ego:

  • "Music can change the world because it can change people."
  • "The future is not fixed, it's fluid. The world is more malleable than you think and it's waiting for you to hammer it into shape."
  • "As a rock star, I have two instincts, I want to have fun, and I want to change the world. I have a chance to do both."
  • Answer:
    EDIT: (Removed answer... It's more fun to guess...)

    ben_archer's picture

    Unfortunately I forget who it was that came up with my favourite quote in the circumstance...

    "Graphic design will save the world – right after rock'n'roll."

    Paul Cutler's picture

    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin

    One persons large solution often becomes anothers large dilemma…

    peace

    TBiddy's picture

    “As a rock star, I have two instincts, I want to have fun, and I want to change the world. I have a chance to do both.”

    First guess: Bono?

    dezcom's picture

    Those who strive to be important the hardest are most likely to become important. They are also most likely to be self-centered and deluded.
    Just do the best you can do in your daily life both at home and at work with whatever means you have. Let others judge "importance" if they crave it.

    ChrisL

    blank's picture

    Saving the world isn't easy, and isn't anything any one designer is going to do. But there's nothing wrong with making a point to not screw things up any more than they already are.

    ben_archer's picture

    ...it was David Carson. Oooooh! Schadenfreud (sic) no?! Especially when I consider what I've just been saying about his work on another thread. At least I credited him his due there. Maybe the guy is a better theorist than he was a practitioner; but then, y'know, he was a sociology lecturer first.

    Dan Gayle's picture

    Who's the biggest Bono of the graphic design world? (Not a hypothetical)

    aluminum's picture

    "Maybe the guy is a better theorist than he was a practitioner; but then, y’know, he was a sociology lecturer first."

    And likely more applicable...he was a surfer, dude.

    TBiddy's picture

    Who’s the biggest Bono of the graphic design world? (Not a hypothetical)
    I don't know the answer to this, because I actually think this is subjective. I've got my own heroes. :)

    dezcom's picture

    What is a "Bono"?

    ChrisL

    hrant's picture

    !
    You must be doing that on purpose*. For one thing, there's Google.

    * And no, that's not an excuse for any dolphin puns.

    hhp

    crossgrove's picture

    "Who’s the biggest Bono of the graphic design world?"

    Ooh tempting... Careful there. ;)

    dezcom's picture

    "You must be doing that on purpose*"

    Actually, I don't know. Is it Sonny Bono or Pro Bono?
    What do dolphins have to do with it?

    ChrisL

    dezcom's picture

    Hrant,
    I just Googled it. Do you mean some guy from the rock group U2? I didn't see any dolphin references. I don't get it.

    ChrisL

    TBiddy's picture

    Chris, U2's been around for over 20 years. I agree with Hrant, no excuse. Shame on you! I'd slap your wrist with a ruler if you were here! Bad punmaster! :)

    dezcom's picture

    The only time I heard of them was in an Apple iPod commercial. Twenty years ago, I was in my 40s with young children and didn't pay attention to the pop music scene--I still don't. I listen to old 50s-60s R&B and opera, not much else.

    I still don't get the Bono thing though? What is a Bono in this context?

    ChrisL

    hrant's picture

    I don't listen to U2 either. But I do listen. And I bet Flipper does to.

    hhp

    Nick Shinn's picture

    I started an environmental marketing agency in 1988. That was the year the Mississippi dried up, the Brundlandt Report coined the term "sustainable development", and the planet was Man of the Year on Time's cover.

    It lasted a couple of years, but it didn't really fit into marketing culture, and I came to the conclusion that you can't position marketing services on anything but the traditional premises of speed, price, and quality -- quality being understood as "creativity" in this context.

    Our philosophy was hard-core, which created two main difficulties, Firstly, we tried to get clients to take out smaller ads, print fewer, smaller brochures, still hoping to make them as effective of course. But advertisers balked. Especially the large corporations who buy lots of space at a good rate, and run big ads with lots of white space, which suits their status.

    More problematic was the role of creativity itself, relating to the "stretched benefit". To be truly responsible, advertising has to offer an environmental audit of the product/service, but that results in straight talk about tangible product qualities, like B2B industrial advertising. Boring, eh?! That's not the way retail and consumer advertising works, where the norm is to attach some benefit to the product that has no connection (like a celebrity testimonial), or to stretch the benefit, eg use this and get sexy -- but it's a car or a detergent. As Marcuse said "products...are made into objects of the libido". Design creativity is, per se, all about stretching benefits. Let's face it, it's getting people to buy stuff they don't need, that damages the environment -- and that goes for environmentally friendlier products too.

    So I came to the conclusion that you can't change the system from within, better to play the game, make some money, and put your reform efforts directly into political action designed to effect legislation that will curb excess directly. It was just too difficult to make a living working with the few companies that had really good environmental products, because there wasn't enough money there.

    Don't get me started on cause marketing :-)

    hrant's picture

    > better to play the game, make some money, and put your reform
    > efforts directly into political action designed to effect legislation

    If that worked, it would be illegal.

    Materialism is entirely human.
    But making materialism the system can only lead to misery.

    Few of us are strong enough to act on that, but most
    of us should be strong enough to at least admit it.

    hhp

    Dan Gayle's picture

    From SomethingAwful.com

    http://www.somethingawful.com/index.php?a=2291

    The Worst Rock Stars Ever


    Let me help you!

    2. Bono – When people in this day and age think “rock star,” they probably think Bono. Bono, on stage in his big sunglasses and his flowing shirt. Bono, with that wry little smile of his, talking to some politician about matters in the third world with a barely-detectable hint of condescension in his voice, the kind that says “we both know that I am right, but you are a fatcat and I am the voice of the people.” Bono’s impeccable hair, and Bono’s resolute chin. If we held elections for “rock star,” Bono would win. While Bono was once just the leader of a post-punk band with political pretensions, he now seems to view himself as the ambassador between rock and roll and the real world. The problem is, rock and roll does not need an ambassador to the real world, nor does it want one. Those familiar with the BBC sitcom “The Office,” which has been released on DVD in America to great popularity recently, might draw a parallel between Bono and Gareth Keenan: If being a rock star is a job, Bono thinks he is assistant regional manager, but he is just assistant to the regional manager. He is rock and roll’s most sycophantic, detestable toadie, trying to worm his way into the world of management without getting hired. For those of you who have no idea what I just said, I will provide an alternate explanation: Bono is a twat. Stop making records and go save the world off camera.

    Lowest Point - The winking, self-referential failure that was “Pop.”

    Mitigating Factor – Probably brings attention to some good causes, the smug bastard.

    AzizMostafa's picture

    > The problem is, rock and roll does not need an ambassador to the real world, nor does it want one

    Yes? No? Let's go to Poll
    Does on that rotate your goal and role?
    ----------------------------
    Rock and Roll
    Drive and Stroll
    Go shopping Stalls and Mall
    Juggle 1001 and One ball
    Get installed and Install
    Click and Scroll
    ...
    ...
    ...
    As long as there's soul!
    Before going to a windowless hole,
    Does on that rotate your goal and role?
    Let's go to Poll
    And hang it up the pole!

    pattyfab's picture

    Bono may be a self-important twat but he has raised a ton of money for Africa and drawn a lot of the world's attention to the crisis there. Whatever his motives are, I think ultimately he'll be judged more for his actions - and considering all the press given to truly self-important, untalented twats like Britney Spears, I don't really have a problem with Bono's grandstanding. Plus some of his music is kinda good...

    Do any of us actually ever do anything for purely altruistic reasons? Think about it. If improving the world didn't actually gratify some impulse in us, who'd bother. And most of the truly dedicated bleeding hearts are a bit unbearable in person anyway. The point is to do the best you can whether you're a designer, a teacher, a corporate raider (Bill Gates comes to mind) or a stay at home mom. It all comes around.

    Chris L you should know who he is.

    dezcom's picture

    I hope he is doing some good work. Actions do speak louder than words.

    ChrisL

    dezcom's picture

    I have just read this Patty:

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=164482

    He seems like a good meaning guy after all.
    I still don't get the Dolphin thing though.

    ChrisL

    pattyfab's picture

    At least he's trying. You don't get nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by sitting around making comments in a type forum.

    dezcom's picture

    I wish creating peace in the world were that easy. We would have done it by now for sure.

    ChrisL

    Chris G's picture

    Chris L

    With regard to dolphin puns, I think Hrant was thinking purpose/porpoise.

    Paul Cutler's picture

    > You don’t get nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by sitting around making comments in a type forum.

    Then he can join these fine men who were all nominated:

    Mussolini, Stalin, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Hitler

    Dynamite!

    peace

    hrant's picture

    > If improving the world didn’t actually
    > gratify some impulse in us, who’d bother.

    This is a very humbling fact that I've come to realize myself, triggered by a friend's admission that she gives money to the homeless purely because it makes her feel better. I guess it's better to have impulses like that instead of the opposite.

    hhp

    Nick Shinn's picture

    If that worked, it would be illegal.

    LOL!

    But seriously, it does work, and there are many ways for people to organize to "effect legislation", ranging from supporting democratic candidates who, if elected, will pass new laws, through working for NGOs who influence government policy, to various forms of civil disturbance -- ranging from awareness campaigns that shame governments into legislative action, to violent revolution, which results in a new government with new laws.

    The Kyoto Protocol is actually legally binding; but the problem is that there is no penalty, so governments such as Canada's, which has signed the agreement, can ignore their committment with impunity.

    but most of us should be strong enough to at least admit it.

    Actions speak louder than words. Unless a celebrity is involved, in which case any good results can't be disentagled from the self-serving publicity. In that sense, the celebrity who speaks out on an issue is involved in cause marketing, promoting both the cause and him/herself as product.

    hrant's picture

    No, dude, it doesn't work. Peons don't get to decide. And if there's ever a glimmer of hope, that's what martial law is for. Or they assassinate the president. Democracy? That's part of the illusion - which is why all the nasties up top are now so eager to spread it, and consolidate it.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6197422.stm

    hhp

    Nick Shinn's picture

    Peons don’t get to decide.

    "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Read

    pattyfab's picture

    Actions speak louder than words. Unless a celebrity is involved, in which case any good results can’t be disentagled from the self-serving publicity. In that sense, the celebrity who speaks out on an issue is involved in cause marketing, promoting both the cause and him/herself as product.

    Agreed, Nick, but if the results are good and the byproduct is positive publicity for the celebrity (or not so positive, c.f. Madonna) then who loses? The cult of celebrity is at a fever pitch right now and that's a shame, but the few that use their celebrity to promote a worthy cause - Bono, George Clooney, Tim Robbins to name a few - should still receive some credit for the results. If that's how people want to take their medicine, so be it.

    I'm also not ready to give up on the idea that a small committed group can effect a change, the civil rights movement came from the ground up, not from the government down.

    TBiddy's picture

    I agree with Nick's philosophy. I was trying to articulate that point without being too specific. The other point I want to make is...in regards to pointing fingers about ethics...

    It's all bullsh!t. I don't have anything to prove to anyone but myself, and neither does anyone else. Its hard enough to live by my own code of ethics, I'm not going to even try to live by anyone elses. So I'll eat my bloody steak thank you, and try to save the world as much as I can. I also might wear a Gap sweat-shirt if its on sale. :)

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