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graphic design culture today | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

graphic design culture today

graphic design culture

Go read the Thin PMS185 Line, by Andy Rutledge, it’s much better than anything I could possibly write about the subject and he shares a lot of common things that I see way too often.

via Dale Simonson

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  • Litherland

    Wow. Food for thought. I agree with some of it

    The graphic design community is terribly distracted by the urge to win awards and then to show them off to others.

    although I think what he goes on to say seems too bottom-line driven. I’m thinking out loud here, but I would speculate that work that receives “peer-driven accolades” as opposed to work that is purely motivated by “client benefit” tends to be more conscious of design history and therefore more valuable to the discipline over the long term. Also, I completely disagree with the segment on “political preoccupations.”

    The largest professional design organization and most popular publications have committed themselves to perpetuating the rhetoric and emphasizing evangelism of one sociopolitical ideal. Designers, as represented by their most visible instruments, are committed to a Leftist, even Socialist agenda.

    Socialist agenda? For real? That seems a little naïve.

    I can only speak for myself; my political preoccupations, and that is indeed what they are, are an important part of who I am and pervade every last aspect of my life. I’m not about to hide or subdue them and don’t think that other designers who feel strongly about certain issues should, either. And where does he get the idea that the AIGA excludes people on the basis of political outlook? It could be the case that, for whatever reason, most designers are varying degrees of left-of-center, but that has nothing to do with the AIGA pushing a specific agenda.

    Anyway, it’s articulate and definitely worth a second read. Too bad about the typo in the first pull-quote.

  • http://www.michaelsurtees.com Michael Surtees

    Caren, this has been quite the week for feedback on d*n and I appreciate the time you’ve put into your responses. Once I catch my breath I’ll try to respond to yours and everyone elses comments.

  • http://www.disegnostudio.com Christina

    I have to agree with Caren on the evangelical bit. Could it be hyperbole on the author’s part? It’s a bit extreme.

    While I would have to say the majority of designers are probably left of centre politically, that hasn’t stopped me from doing work for my clients who are Conservatives. And honestly, I don’t know any designer who has happily turned down well-paying work for a large corporation simply because of a difference in politics. Heck, I think we’ve all done enough work for the ‘low low friends and family rate’ for arts/culture organizations to realize that this is not going to help us retire at 55.

    Having said that, I think his bit about awards is very true. I have yet to meet a person who said, “Yeah, our company decided to go with Studio X because we saw their work featured in CA so often that we thought, ‘They must be good!'” It would be something to win an award based on client raves. I’ll get on that.

  • Litherland

    And honestly, I don’t know any designer who has happily turned down well-paying work for a large corporation simply because of a difference in politics.

    Well, now you know one. Why do you think I live hand-to-mouth in an obscure zipcode?

    Michael, I don’t put time into commenting on blogs. That’s the tragedy. I type faster than I think, alas. That’s what leads me to make ultra-blunt comments on DO and SU. And here.

    I was thinking about this some more last night, and it occurs to me that the dichotomy Rutledge has constructed between the awkwardly phrased “peer-driven accolades” and “client benefit” is probably false. If forced to choose between respect from one’s peers and “client benefit,” most designers would choose the former. But do we really have to choose? I’m not so sure. I think not.

    What designer, armed with a brief, sits down and says: “Okay, now which route should I take? Should I care about the client’s bottom line, or should I try to win some awards with this?”

    An obvious example would be the Sagmeister. We all know what his awards situation is. We also know, or should know, that he delivers on the “client benefit” side of the equation. I’ve only met him a couple of times and I certainly don’t know him, but I don’t believe for a second that, at the start of a project, he says to himself: “Okay, now let’s design something that will be sure to pick up a few awards in the next cycle.”

    Or a perhaps less obvious example: Paul Sahre, one of the designers I admire the most. I have absolutely no idea what Paul’s awards situation is. (I have a better idea of John Gall’s awards history.) I suspect he doesn’t really give a flying f* about awards, but I may be wrong. No, I think these guys, like most designers I know moreover, summon their experience and their knowledge of design history (which serves as the context and lineage in which we work) to come up with the most elegant solution to the problems at hand. And we are all different and we will all come up with different solutions, some of which will be more successful than others.