In response to the year I've had in working in industry, the ethical responsibility design carries is hard to ignore. There have been times where I have had to detach myself from the work I'm creating so I didn't feel responsible for the message I communicated. Working in Berlin for a more corporate company, this was the expected standard of working. When creating content for biased and ethically questionable newspapers, I considered the importance of working against your beliefs. This question has been discussed countless times by designers, I have decided my stance on the matter in relation to these references and acted accordingly since this role.
‘Individuals who choose to enter the field often take it for granted that the visual aspect of things can make a significant difference to the quality of life.’ Jared Davidson
Left-wing biased holds an immense history in graphic design. The typographic innovations of the avant-garde work of early Soviet designers like Lissitzky have influenced generations of designers, who are unaware of the message they are spreading. I contest that as a result of this, all design is political. As a modern designer, I have pulled upon all given knowledge from those before me, to realise that the work we create is fundamentally influenced by our environment. Every aspect of our life is impacted by the political agenda of the time, and our work will reflect that. Although I understand Wim Crouwel's position on design, believing that if you align your work with your agenda you narrow your job opportunities, I respectfully disagree. By allowing designer that supports to cause to take the role, the outcome will have more meaning and understanding. Remaining neutral as a designer limits expression and life within work, it's more pleasurable to relate to a piece work than it is to visually appreciate it. In life, we make a series of choices, relating to what we feel is important. I believe that happiness is the end goal in life, and it has been said that to achieve the happiness you must help other people. I applaud designers who have gone against the norm, to create work that puts people first instead of the design. This approach will undoubtedly be the most fulfilling to be recognised for.
'[The designer’s] task is on the one hand conveyance of content, without interfering in it, on the other hand, he certainly does have an inescapably private contribution. Crouwel’s fear of subjective interference leads to uniformity, causing a distinct identity to disappear.' Jan Van Toorn, 1972
The work I have created since working in Berlin has aggressively carried this notion of helping all through design. Utilizing the knowledge I gained whilst at Selfridges, I have worked more conceptually, empowering my work with meaning. A project that resonates most with this is one I worked on whilst in Berlin, exploring the ways that typography can represent unity and growth. Type Thursdays talks throughout the year developed my understanding of how type can make an impact and the role it can play in communicating a message. The typeface I designed in February was in resistance to my 2019 systems typeface, this custom lettering chooses to oppose the rigid structure that was once law. This typeface represents a dreamlike utopia where structure remains but co-exists with freedom and growth. Within any society, rules and structure should be implemented, however, freedom and fairness should take an equal space. The letters take influence from the Latin alphabet, in reference to the origins of the word ‘utopia’. These letterforms were combined with expressive marks to communicate the concept of structured societal growth and equality. From here, during COVID19 I developed more 'Utopian' typefaces to juxtapose the dystopian feel of the times. In retaliation to the message of strength being communicated as a nation, I wanted to communicate a calm message, embracing the flexibility of the time we have, rather than strength and fear.
The work I have developed over the past 6 months shows immense growth as a designer, as well as holistically as a person. I have a greater understanding of my role in the design community and what impact I want to have. I have found pleasure in working for myself, exploring ways I can please and unify people with my designs, however, I have not restricted myself to these parameters. I have experienced more direct forms of protest through design working on campaigns for justice. Designing in this way felt more pressurised, I had a larger responsibility to communicate with emergency and impact. I did adequate research into campaigns of the past, looking into why the Obama campaign resonated with the nation and how I could replicate this effect. Working towards outcomes I resonate and feel strongly about made designing less work and more play, I was excited by briefs and proud to be a part of something that inspired change.
For the next few weeks, I will be working remotely for ModernMatter Magazine. Conceptual growth and meaning are embedded within the core of this magazine, working with artists and designers to not only evoke emotion through imagery but to convey a deeper message. Working with others that think deeply about the meaning of their work will enrich my process and cultivate my creative direction in preparation for my final year. I am remarkably grateful for these experiences as this year has molded me into a more thoughtful and calculated designer.