Manifestation of a Manifesto
Let’s start with a few quotes from designers that are considered as the staple diet in graphic design. I hope they outline where my values are and one day, maybe, students like myself will be quoting me in their manifesto.
The next time you see a sixteen-colour, blind-embossed, gold-stamped, die-cut, elaborately folded and bound job, printed on handmade paper, look to see if it isn’t a mediocre idea trying to pass for something else.
— Milton Glaser
It’s not about knowing all the gimmicks and photo tricks. If you haven’t got the eye, no program will give it to you.
— David Carson
I want everything we do to be beautiful. I don’t give a damn whether the client understands that that’s worth anything, or that the client thinks it’s worth anything, or whether it is worth anything. It’s worth it to me. It’s the way I want to live my life. I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.
— Saul Bass
I am a graphic designer, seeing the world through consumer’s eyes. Remembering a time when I could pick up a magazine that was not saturated with flyers, or browse to a website that did not have any banners or flashing distractions. Graphic design has defiantly succumb to this and I believe that unless we can change this view we will lose in large measure the creative freedom that were held by past designers. What seems to have become expected of designers is a perplexing monotony of creating design for designs sake.
Nothing seems to be that special anymore. Graphic designers have been enclosed into the folds of the corporation, enticed by money, used and abused and given no respect for their artistic talents. We have become another part in the machine, to create demand for products that are inessential at best. Don’t get me wrong, we need to all work for a living, but Graphic design seems to be losing itself in the abyss of standardisation. Do we really want to become another number in a system, or do we want to be the visual communicators that push boundaries and messages to a new generation, stop the saturation of my senses and simply make the world a better place to look at.
Although there is a place for advertising, advertising is the life blood of commerce. Without it that plasma television would not find its way into your home and the company would not be able to redistribute the funds to create more technology and pay its staff. But let’s consider for a second that we have had enough of this visual bombardment of bad typography and mangled design.
Consumerism is running uncontested
We should me more concerned with the designing of better world, leaving a legacy. Living in the time that we do allows for a certain leeway to create designs of a higher calibre. We can take more time and plan to a greater degree. Technology has given us the time saving abilities that our fore bearers did not have, but more than that we can afford to be more cavalier. We are not poor anymore, although this country seems to think we are. These companies and corporations can afford to spend on better design. Better design visuals would for a start make people happier and give a more fulfilled sense of purpose to the creator. Rather than dismissing the designer as just simply someone who creates the nice images that adorn their products, there should be more call for the designing of the great and iconic. Nothing today I have seen compares to the past design triumphs that even now are still around, nothing can better them. Considered and calculated artworks. For example, Coke and Uncle Sam.
One created for sales and one created to enlist soldiers, one had a lot of money spent on it and one was a product of need during the war. Now that there is no war time need for the creation of design, then it falls to commissioning of great designs.
As we are rolled out from universities as the new generation of graphic design, we instantly become accountable for our professional actions economically, socially, and environmentally. We all understand that consumerism is a part of capitalism and is impossible to disregard this as we take jobs in the real world. But with that said we should not forget that we control information and are responsible for the effect our designs have on culture, local and global.
Following are points I think should be encouraged as Graphic Designers:
- Influences are everywhere, be aware of them
- That Design is about communicating ideas
- Keep things simple and do not corrupt the design with useless information
- Try make a design as sustainable as possible
- Love what you do, money will follow
A return to craft skills and manual creation of imagery should be undertaken. There is a revival of this after the last major outburst of consumer imagery being created on apple products. Although they are a major time saver and should be a used as a tool to realise ideas and bring them to fruition. There is an inherent underwhelming feeling that is instilled in a viewer who knows the image was created using a computer. It seems to express a lack of effort, even if the artist has invested time and energy into it.
A forward thinking attitude is needed for the pursuit of better design. It benefits the world and for the self motivated yourselves, for all of us as designers to learn our chosen craft and follow our fore bearers in having a philosophy with which to follow rather than lose ourselves in the mindless monotony that creates a world of bad design. Let designers design, like you would let a plumber plumb.
The final thought of this manifesto is that as graphic designers we should not stand alone and work in secret, we should embrace a chance to create those special kinds of works that endure ages and contribute to an ever evolving world. Science is looking for a unified theory of everything, let’s all make a unified theory of design.