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Design-ism

I guess it really should have happened sooner. The notion that design is a particular filter through which one can see the world is pretty well established. And the recognition that all acts are political acts is an old Marxist chestnut.

So it only seems inevitable someone would come up with the term designism.

Traipsing through Wikipedia, one learns that usage of the suffix –ism denotes beliefs, idiologies or practices — as opposed to –logy, which indicates a field of study or discipline. In this light, designism is an apt description for how the world is being remade through mass media.

Where is the mass medium? Is it the newspaper advertisement, is it the TV broadcast, is it the polo shirt? Here we have not one but two, three, perhaps more mass media, acting through different channels. The media have multiplied, but some of them act as media of media, or in other words media squared. And at this point who is sending the message? The manufacturer of the polo shirt? its wearer? The person who talks about it on the TV screen? Who is the producer of ideology? Because it’s a question of ideology: You have only to analyze the implications of the phenomenon, what the polo-shirt manufacturer wants to say, and what its wearer wants to say, and the person who talks about it. But according to the channel under consideration, in a certain sense the meaning of the message changes, and perhaps also its ideological weight. There is no longer Authority, all on its own (and how consoling it was!). Shall we perhaps identify with Authority the designer who had the idea of inventing a new polo-shirt design, or the manufacturer (perhaps in the provinces) who decided to sell it, and to sell it on a wide scale, to make money, as is only right, and to avoid having to fire his employees? Or those who legitimately agree to wear it, and to advertise an image of youth and heedlessness, or happiness? Or the TV director, who to characterize a generation has one of his young actors wear the polo shirt? Or the singer, who, to cover his expenses, agrees to sponsor the polo shirt? All are in it, and all are outside it; Power is elusive, and there is no longer any telling where the “plan” comes from. Because there is, of course, a plan, but it is no longer intentional, and therefore it cannot be criticized with the traditional criticism of intentions. — Umberto Eco, “The Multiplication of the Media,” 1983

I remember reading something by Tibor Kalman in which he suggested since there was so much good design done by good designers, one could think of it all as mediocre. Perhaps this is designism — or at least late capitalism. In any sense, the word describes both the dissemination of design awareness (Target ads, Project Runway, Martha Stewart in K-Mart) and the continual refinement of mass media technique.

Designism was coined by Milton Glaser; one of the more visible and socially conscious designers. He, along with George Lois, James Victore, Jessica Helfand, Tony Hendra and Kurt Andersen will appear on a panel to further discuss his neologism on September 21, at The Art Directors Club in New York City. Steve Heller will moderate.

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ARCHIVE ID 2778 FILED UNDER Miscellaneous
PUBLISHED ON Sep.08.2006 BY m. kingsley
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Sam Potts’s comment is:

Mark, how is the term 'designism' any different than the already well-fleshed out term 'aetheticism'? Do you mean to say that designism refers to the field of study of graphic design, or do you apply it broadly to designiness (my preferred description of our current aestheticized moment, when everything's crap but in a pretty color--I'm looking at you, Target).

Personally, I say nice try but no dice. Aestheticism is what's happening. Calling it designism is just another case of we lowly graphic designers trying to get a seat at the table. But I just wanted to see you split some verbal hairs.

On Sep.08.2006 at 10:24 AM
Sam Potts’s comment is:

"Aestheticism" not "aetheticism."

On Sep.08.2006 at 10:26 AM
Sam Potts’s comment is:

"Aestheticism" not "aetheticism." Or atheism, God forbid, har har.

On Sep.08.2006 at 10:26 AM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

I’m not sure of the implications of the term or Glaser’s intended implications. An abiding belief in the value of design (cf. pluralism)? A belief that one sort of design is superior to another (cf. racism and sexism)? Or just a cute way of saying “All that ism stuff is important and designers ought to be, too”?

On Sep.08.2006 at 10:29 AM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

Or is Designism - as you say "ism denotes beliefs, idiologies or practices" - a way of viewing the world, believing that design has a certain ability to do something?

I'm not sure I'm entirely clear on my own thought, but I think it extends beyond "a description for how the world is being remade through mass media". Would it be close to "a description for belief in how the world can be changed through design"?

In that respect, I don't think I'm a Designist. At least not one who thinks design is infalliable...

On Sep.08.2006 at 10:34 AM
Adrian’s comment is:

"The notion that design is a particular filter through which one can see the world is pretty well established."

That sentence seems a little odd to me. Can you give me a couple links to back that up and help me figure out what the heck that means? I must have missed something. Thanks, Kingsley.

On Sep.08.2006 at 11:20 AM
m.kingsley’s comment is:

Sam, Gunnar --
In my mind, designism is a simplified and group-specific way to describe themes found in Fredric Jameson's Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Individual professions may have their own vocabulary to describe similar phenomena -- so there's nothing new here, other than a word specific to a small group of people.

What I find more interesting than any academic turf survey, are nascent crypto-marxist sentiments found in the word's definition. Is it the wisdom of age, or a juvenile "biting the hand that feeds you?" Again, nothing new when compared to other aesthetic occupations; but somehow interesting. And if you want to accuse me of engaging in another flight of meaningless fancy, go right ahead.

Adrian --
The metaphor of language, jargon, or any other form of déformation professionnelle acting as a set of conceptual "filters" comes from linguistics and semiotics. The specific turn of phrase comes from Dr. Mihai Nadin.

On Sep.08.2006 at 12:02 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

Sorry to be a Philistine, Mark, but in plain English, are you saying that designism refers to "aesthetic populism"?

Is it that which has sparked a recognition in the general populace of things that range from the Dyson vaccuum cleaner to the existence of fonts?

Is it merely awareness of the existence of design and of the "designer's hand" or does it carry a pre-built judgement of that design? (e.g. in the mass preference for the Martha Stewart aesthetic as "good taste"?)

Or is it connected to this notion that everything humans create is design (that all acts are design acts), and thus the breaking down of the design barriers where everyone is a designer, leading then into D.I.Y.?

In your excerpt, Eco talks about multiple layers of control ("Authority") over messaging; you mention something by Tibor, which seems to imply a kind of pan-design — a sort of levelling of the aesthetic playing field; and then you link to an article which begins by talking about the "end of something" and if we see modernisms as structured and controlled, both aesthetically and authorially, then postmodernism being the end of that control and the blurring between Authorial (Designed) Culture and mass culture.

Which makes designism ... what? Awareness? Judgement? or Transfer of Power?

On Sep.08.2006 at 01:24 PM
Michael’s comment is:

As designism's rhetorical wet cement begins its tumultuous curing process, I find a momentary foothold in the awareness that the denotive term for our beliefs, ideologies, and practices is represented by a kick-ass circle logo, complete with a sensuous script "D" (note the subliminal spiral galaxy center) and a red-hot drop shadow. Ahhhhhh.

On Sep.08.2006 at 03:48 PM
Michael’s comment is:

On Sep.08.2006 at 03:56 PM
Ryan’s comment is:

I know the term designist had been used by some of the Russian constructivists. Denise Gonzales Crisp mentions the term in an issue of Emigre, "Out of Context: Entrepreneurs, Designists and Other Utopians".

On Sep.09.2006 at 03:00 PM
felixxx’s comment is:

Mark,
perhaps the ADC has it wrong (surprise?) on their website, but according to it/ them Brian Collins, not Steve Heller will moderate.

On Sep.10.2006 at 01:30 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

nascent crypto-marxist sentiments found in the word's definition

If you tell us that “designism” = “late capitalism” then I’d have to say that the term isn’t crypto-marxist, it’s flagrantly marxist. (Whether pathetically, wishfully marxist is too long of a discussion to get into.) I doubt that most of the parties involved agree on this definition or are even aware of it.

At this point I’d have to say the term isn’t crypto-anything. It’s psuedo-meaningful. It doesn’t really function as language because there is not, as far as I can tell, a constituency that shares a similar understanding of the term. Call is half-baked attempt at poetry, verbal music, or even the first attempts at coining jargon that will one day become meaningful but unless you or they offer an explanation, it’s the kind of cute fluff that the graphic design, publishing, and advertising industries love: something that is inarguable because it is empty.

On Sep.10.2006 at 04:34 PM
Joe Moran’s comment is:

Designism = crap!

Respectfully,

On Sep.10.2006 at 04:42 PM
Brian Alter’s comment is:

I'm with Joe on this one.

On Sep.10.2006 at 05:18 PM
KevinHopp’s comment is:

Seems like a long ride for a Baloney sandwich.

Happy NOT to be a Philistine, Designism is so Bernard Berkmanesque, ke ke ke

On Sep.10.2006 at 06:27 PM
Joe Moran’s comment is:

My previous comment = crap!

My sincere apologies to the "Designism" folks.

My face is really red right now. (I guess I should start clicking the highlighted "links" in the main body of these posts from now on.)

As the link to the Art Directors Club press release clearly states (if I had bothered to read it before) is that "Designism" is about how: design and advertising professionals can use their skills and talents to shape life and instigate social change in our challenging times.

Nothing about Marxism, late captialism, pluralism or even neologism (as Mr. Glaser clearly states.)

I guess this was a good lesson on getting to know about a subject completely before basing my thoughts on what people are saying about it in the media (or in an online discussion forum). I got all worked up for nothing and made an ass of myself.

I now sink back into obscurity -- tail between legs.

Very Humbly,

On Sep.10.2006 at 10:22 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

And using carpentry for the public good like the folks at Habitat for Humanity is, of course, carpentrism. Using persuasive speech to change the world for the better must be rhetorism. Driving poor and elderly voters to the polls is vehiclism in its highest form.

Until someone comes up with a valid use for the silly coinage, I’m going to have to agree with Joe Moran even if Joe Moran doesn’t.

On Sep.11.2006 at 12:03 AM
unnikrishna Menon Damodaran’s comment is:

Design is not a filter to look at the world.
And the world is not pretty or established well especially in these times of turmoil all over the globe.

All acts are political act.
There is nothing called apolitical, i believe.

Design itself is a political act.
Because it is for the people.
By the people.
For change.
For the well being.

and offcourse it is for the capitalists too!?

But why do we want another jargon, in this already confused world of consumerism?

Designers are communicators.
and i strongly believe communications should be simple for the people.

"Designism" is another jargon to confuse the people around?

God, help designers and design.
another "ism" is in the making!!

On Sep.11.2006 at 02:54 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

"And using carpentry for the public good like the folks at Habitat for Humanity is, of course, carpentrism."

:o)

Alas, we're 'creative professionals' so we can't just use any run-of-the mill term but rather we have to design our own words to describe ourselves. ;o)

You need a logo? NO! You need a strategic corporate rebranding! You need a brochure? NO! You need a piece of synergetic marketing literature. You need a web site? NO! You need to leverage the user experience offered by your cohesive business offerings via the electronic medium of RSS and Flash!

On Sep.11.2006 at 10:46 AM
Diane Witman’s comment is:

I will be attending this panel discussion on the 21st. Maybe I can fill everyone in who can't attend?

I'm interested in seeing how this discussion is positioned and what comments will surface from the panel speakers.

From Philadelphia to New York...ADC, here I come!

On Sep.11.2006 at 10:57 AM
Kosal Sen’s comment is:

When there's discussion about design affecting the world, it feels so completely out of touch with my everyday graphic designing life. What happened with all the client rants we confide in each other about? Menial tasks that take up most of work? How do we move on and defeat that all of a sudden? Design awareness nowadays makes me wonder what a graphic designer's role is in the public eye, compared to fashion, product, and industrial design. I mean, come on- our professions' claim to fame and genuity is a beautifully designed prescription bottle. When a friend once nominated me as a helpful candidate with "Take his advice, he's a designer." The person simply scoffed, "Yeah, a graphic designer." Help me out guys. I'm becoming more narrow minded in our industry's capability. I'm losing hope. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I need to leave my job. Maybe it's just Monday.

On Sep.11.2006 at 12:01 PM
KevinHopp’s comment is:

Milton Glaser is one of the signees of First Things First 2000: A Design Manifesto. Are we supposed to forget about the manifesto and replace it with a this pseudo-ism?

On Sep.11.2006 at 02:06 PM
JonSel’s comment is:

You need a web site? NO! You need to leverage the user experience offered by your cohesive business offerings via the electronic medium of RSS and Flash!

Damn, now I'm going to have to change the copy on my website again. Oh, wait, I don't even offer web services...

I'm going to pull a Joe Moran (Moranism?) and just say that every time the design industry attempts to grab some high intellectual ground, I get skeptical. Maybe my worldview is too narrow, but I just don't see my contribution to the world being that grand. If I help a company expand their sales through some better designed brochures or a better identity, then I've done a little to help the economy. And if I can bring a non-profit more donations through a stronger communications program, then I've helped some people along the way and that makes me feel good.

If you want to see how big a deal graphic design is, just look at all those Urban Forest Project banners. Lovely little pieces of design that they are, who really thinks they've made a huge statement and are going to cause true urban renewal? Frankly, I think someone should have just bought some trees and planters and installed them around Times Square.

On Sep.11.2006 at 02:10 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

"Design awareness nowadays makes me wonder what a graphic designer's role is in the public eye, compared to fashion, product, and industrial design."

Our role is to sell fasion, product and industrial design. ;o)

On Sep.11.2006 at 02:36 PM
Joe Moran’s comment is:

Moran peeks his head in slowly to make sure no one is waiting with tomato in hand.

-----

Seems like a lot is being made out of nothing so far. The explanation given by Mr. Glaser of “designism,” was extremely broad and vague.

Which is totally fine by me. I’m not going to get upset if someone wants to design for a “change.” It’s a free country and they can do what they want. It’s their club. I’m not going to criticize them for wanting a change. God Bless America! As long as no one gets their eye poked out, I'm fine.

So what?

What if the designism crew came out and said: Designism = designing to educate how cultures are different, but also similar.

What if they got together and proposed to write a children’s book about how kids who live in the Middle East are different from kids in the Middle West. Different languages, skin colors, diets, religions, economies, etc. But also told how kids are the same no matter where they live -- they like to play, love their parents, want to learn, want to help, like sweets, like toys, etc.

They would probably get top-notch writers and illustrators to work on the book. It would probably be a masterpiece and win lots of awards.

And what if they showed the book to someone like SAPPI? And then SAPPI decided to print those suckers, and translate them into Sufi, Sunni, Saudi or Arabic and ship them to the kiddies all over the world. What then?

And what if they didn’t pollute the whole story with grown-up ideas. No politics or idealism – just facts. Stuff like: Girls in the Middle East have to cover up from head to toe to go outside. Girls in the Middle West eat bacon.

And what if parents read this book to their kids and then thought to themselves: If kids are "different but the same" -- then grown-ups can be “different but the same,” too. And that’s “OK.”

-----

And then, before anyone could move their mouse, Moran hopped on the trolley – back through the tunnel – and out of the land of make-believe. All that was heard was a distant…

… R-e-s-p-e-c-t-f-u-l-l-y, …
and the faint smell of bacon. -----

Or was that crap?

On Sep.11.2006 at 10:02 PM
felixxx’s comment is:

As designism's ... a kick-ass circle logo, complete with a sensuous script "D" (note the subliminal spiral galaxy center) and a red-hot drop shadow. Ahhhhhh.

Contrair, Monfriare. It's a New York Times thing. You wouldn't understand.

On Sep.13.2006 at 12:30 PM
Sam Pratt’s comment is:

It's notable (and eyebrow-raising) that this panel did not include a single real, live activist to temper the abstract opinions of these designers and critics.

As I've commented to Bill Drenntel before (much to his discomfiture), high-end designers and advertising people often completely misunderstand what kinds of designs work at the grassroots level.

Despite paying lipservice to notions of contextuality and "working with" clients, most designers and ad people view pro bono work for causes mostly as an opportunity to be more "artistic" than their work-for-hire.

But often these designs and campaigns are completely out of step with the target community and the needs of the activist groups for whom they are created.

In my own work as both a (successful) activist and a (self-taught) designer, I repeatedly fended off very bad ideas from Madison Avenue and downtown "pros" who insisted their proposed campaigns were the only way to go. This was the one constant -- their utter certainty in the rightness of their ideas.

Sometimes, in a local or regional campaign, the slickest, cleverest, boldest, or most "dramatic" message is the one most guaranteed to alienate the target audience.

But since the designs which win awards (or get featured in books) are handed out by others in the same peer group as the creatives, not by activists, inappropriate campaigns keep getting rewarded, while effective and contextually smart work is ignored.

I'm reminded of a quote I recently ran across from David Hockney in a Metropolis book:

"I do make a distinction which I think we have lost. The difference is that art must move you, design need not."

When turning their hand to activist work, designers and other creatives too often think that the goal is to "move" the audience. More often, in activist work, the hard part is convincing the audience -- and not alienating them with hifalutin imagery or typography.

On Sep.22.2006 at 09:42 PM
Armin’s comment is:

A review of the event for those who could not attend.

On Sep.23.2006 at 08:34 AM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Maybe when the podcast appears I can be proved wrong but the review convinces me that the term “designism” is not just marketing fluff but outright bullshit. At best it is merely stupid. This sort of phony categorization confuses thinking. It is sad that it is used to represent the views of people who have championed education and clear communication over cheap sales tricks.

On Sep.23.2006 at 01:44 PM
avisualperson’s comment is:

I found the event to be quite the opposite and in fact, nothing to do with a particular style; but more, the combination with design with activism or at least, recognition of the power of design. at the conclusion, the moderator asks us, but most importantly Milton, to NOT be so humble, because as designers, as art directors as communicators, we do wield influence and power. Sure, the large corporate mass media might bombard us everyday, sure, the well-paying client will get what he wants in the end, but on an individual basis, and with the right client and partner, great things can happen.

with that said, the panel was interesting, but I agree with sam pratt's comment, out of touch. Powerful indeed, with educators on the panel, but no one really "in the trenches."

in any case, a forum for such discussion can be found on this site, but also on the After These Messages site, recently launched to discuss these very issues and allow for a space to critique communication as we know it. Please take the time to check it out; I think it's very relevant to this discussion and to the nature of our profession. A wise man once said, "With great power comes great responsibility." (okay, so it was from Spiderman, but you get the idea.)

On Sep.23.2006 at 01:51 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

I found the event to be quite the opposite

Sorry. Quite the opposite of what? Since my post was the immediate predecessor, I have to assume that it was in response to my statement about “the term ‘designism.’” So the event was quite the opposite of the term? Quite the opposite of the way I didn’t characterize it? Or if good people are talking about good stuff then everything connected or associated with that is good?

I hope that the last is not what you meant. It is the sort of fuzzy thinking that allows people to come up with a coinage like “designism” and foist it on the world with a straight face.

On Sep.23.2006 at 04:13 PM
Thomas Jockin’s comment is:

Having gone to the event, I think my overall feeling was one of disconnection.

What these guys were saying wasn't in question as being good. But i just had the aching feeling it just doesn't connect with designers under 30 today. What battles to we have to fight ? What drives us?

And the political anti-Bush answer doesn't work because that's not even close to the kinds of massive movement the old 60's movements were ( I don't find it surprising that all of the speakers where working or were raised during Vietnam).

No, I really do think for most designers design is just a means to a paycheck. The fact that we get to make "cool" things is just the bonus. And the idea of doing social or political work is a luxury about all luxuries. We gotta bring home the bacon— right?

I could go on longer, but I save time or all just head to my blog if it so suits your fancy for my feelings of the event.

On Sep.23.2006 at 08:47 PM
Thomas Jockin’s comment is:

Ah! i forgot the link:

milieu

On Sep.23.2006 at 09:17 PM
Joe Moran’s comment is:

Wow! "Designism" really does=crap.

Who knew?

VR/

On Sep.23.2006 at 10:37 PM
Joe Moran’s comment is:

p.s. The crow is good, too!

On Sep.23.2006 at 10:45 PM
avisualperson’s comment is:

gunnar,

the thought quite the opposite was referring to all the guesswork pre-event, about how "designism" referred to capitalist-this and aesthetic-that, and nothing with your characterization and in fact, is in complete agreement. the easiest definition/guess is they took the word "design" and the word "activism" and dropped "activ-" and came up with "design-ism" like it was a political movement with a manifesto, a cause, leaders and followers. Sure, George Lois art directed some crazy Esquire covers, and Glaser did a bunch of anti-war stuff, and Victore did all that crayon-scratch wheatpasting or whatnot, but yes, it could be a whole load of bullshit. self-loving backpatting?

It's interesting the comments about over 40 versus under 40 because there is some interesting social resistance work going on (NOT the times square tree project as mentioned; that's just fluff) but like the person who branded the ukrainian pro-Yushchenko movement orange, banksy's art placed in strategic places, even the semi-corny appropriation of corporate logos for resistance movements, etc. People are doing things and not necessarily during the weekly creative meeting or on a critwall, but at home in their basements with a silkscreen press and 300 t-shirts; it's way difficult, and way low-profile, but occasionally, someone will publish a book like graphic agitation or something and think its covering a lot when its only selecting from private collections or pre-published entires from annuals.

What I don't understand is why they didn't have Kalle Lasn on the panel, him coming to mind as one of today's generation of agitprop-types, who has allowed his magazine to degenerate to something very messy and not very interesting anymore, but at first was great and refreshing.

as to thomas jockin's last point, yes, it's tough to be into design, and into typography, and into color, and then apply that to something beyond the paycheck but, people are doing it all the time. you don't have to work for a leftist newspaper designing flyers, you don't have to be some sort of graffiti vandal like kaws and subvert advertising, but you can apply your thoughts or passion into the work you do everyday. The moderator's point in the end was that no, you shouldn't be humble. we all have the power to do things, small as they may seem, we create the visual language and library that the rest of the world sees, so we can do something about it. Whether it's cool or not is a different story; case in point, the discussion on this site about the Urban Forest project; sure, some of it is great and cool, but some of them have nothing to do with the brief (about trees and environmental crap and whatnot). It's high-profile among our community and there are some great designers chosen, but that might not the most effective way of spending money on the environmental movement, if it was meant to help it in the first place. Direct all that energy towards a group that is affecting legislation and actual, physical or legal changes towards protecting the environment or donate the time spent towards planting a bunch of trees in a playground, I think you'll make more of a difference that way. and if it had to be design-oriented, then volunteer your services towards a social or environmental non-profit, or work with vendors that support particular causes. it's almost like setting a "social footprint" for yourself; that if you do cigarette ads all day long, then at night, do some work for environmental defense who is fighting for clean air, so as to reduce your footprint. or not.

and to mr. thomas jockin's point on the idea of doing social or political work is a luxury about all luxuries . . . I like the language in that statement but I don't quite get it. that we, as graphic designers, even have the time to care about social change means that we're too privileged to even care? or, that it's a luxury to think about things as luxurious as clean air, or racial justice, or a sustainable future? I work at an agency that is really trying to change things, but everyday, we talk about that weird thing that sorta feels like hypocrisy, even though we know it isn't because our heart is there, but somehow feels like it is. Imagine how many trees must be killed in order to produce a feel-good poster about saving trees?

but anyway, I think when we go out of our way and trumpet a cause for our own worthiness, it backfires. It's self-congratulatory and makes everyone feel good but in the end, just incorporate it into your everyday; no need for a declaration or even a movement, just an acknowledgement.

by the way, I'd love to work on that sappi book, mr. moran, but I don't think that would fall under "designism." not sure what it would fall under, but it would be nice.

On Sep.25.2006 at 02:01 PM
Thomas Jockin’s comment is:

avisualperson:

for the And the idea of doing social or political work is a luxury about all luxuries.

that's a super bad typo, it should be: above all luxuries.

my bad.

That we, as graphic designers,even have the time to care about social change means that we're too privileged to even care?

it would say that hits the mark.

As for the first point you made, I wasn't saying "designism" stuff isn't happening. I was saying it's not the same as a few decades ago.

The motivations are not the same. Quite frankly I was speaking about the air of disinterest in most designers my age have in anything remote to social or political causes. That's not to say we don't think of such things as "nice", "good" or "cool", but it does not have the sense of urgent need nor a connotation of being the core sprit of graphic design.

On Sep.25.2006 at 02:43 PM
Joe Moran’s comment is:

Was really hoping all those gorgeous big brains would come back down to earth with the whole "designism" metaphor. But they didn't.

I don't have the time to take on the children's book project -- it was just a wish --, but the idea is out there now. I have no legal team. Feel free to explore and expand the idea on your own terms Mr./Mrs. "AVisualPerson" or anyone else.

Power to the people, true? Open source -- trackin'? Maybe the "designism" can start here -- ina "design gang" -- with a sensible measure. Rather than be a vulgar, angry exploration of nothing. Like so many "manifestos."

Is passion stronger than ego? Is love stronger than me?

I'm going to say yes. And cross my boney fingers!

VR/

On Sep.25.2006 at 08:55 PM
Thomas Jockin’s comment is:

Joe,

I somewhat agree. The more I think back on the night, the more I wish the idea of the night wasn't "should graphic design be for social change?" but more along the lines "what can graphic design do to truly cause change?"

We can go back to the early Modernists, who believed form was for building a better and new future.

I wonder if the way we attempt to change the world is the best way we can do it. Look at Product Design or Urban Design — with design's presence, measurably good changes occur for people that came from efforts in these areas.

Can graphic design deliver in the same way? Personally I haven't seen it yet. Doing ad campaigns don't really improve the daily lives of people.

It doesn't have to be as a lofty as national politics, because in reality most people live very "small" lives, within their neighborhoods, trying to make the best of their lives and their families.

On Sep.26.2006 at 10:15 AM
avisualperson’s comment is:

Thomas,

The whole Gore-shoulda-won-in-2000-chad-debacle was a case of graphic design making a pretty big difference (and the focal point of AIGA's VOICE conference in 2001 and other initiatives), and even some of Jessica Helfand's examples during the talk were pretty ordinary cases of graphic design, in relatively mundane places, but making a real difference. I think what happens when it becomes labelled, and trumpeted, and heralded, etc., that it becomes redundant and useless and loses its original intent to just make a difference, and becomes just someone talking about how they made a difference.

As for most ad campaigns around us, yes, for the most part, its a sell-sell-sell thing and unfortuntely, some of the most effective social campaigns just end up in annuals or Archive and never even reach anyone. Again, it's a case of the pat-on-the-back, without really making a difference. Sad to say, but true.

On Sep.26.2006 at 10:56 AM
Thomas Jockin’s comment is:

avisualperson,

I think you're misunderstanding my point:

it's not that graphic design should, can, or does good things for socitey. It most certianly should, can and has done many good things for the world, like the points you've brought up ( though to be fair the 2000 butterfly ballot is more of a example of the risks of a lack of graphic design, instead of graphic design in a active manner causing change.) and a example Joe privately emailed to me( which was excellent I must say!).

The issue I'm bring up is— is it a prime goal of my generation, the under 30— the ones still in undergrad and grad school right now— to change society for the better using design?

And this manners more because for the last 20 years or so, the same generation have been in charge of the dialog of what graphic design is, does and will be.

Look at today's Quipsologies, Alan Fletcher just died. The man is responable for one of the more important design firms in the 20th century, Pentagram.

How long until Massimo Vignelli dies? Mathew Carter? Milton Glasser?

What's going to happen when every leading designer of this era passes on, who's going to take their place? Experimental Jetset? Armin Vit ( I kid! I kid! I kid becuase I love!)?

All I'm saying is that— summed up— We should be wondering what's going on in the heads of the youths today. It's gonig to be them leading design in decades to come, no?

And to be quite honest, like I've said before in earlier post, designers of my age bracket aren't really concerned with doing good with their design. Maybe later in life, after they're sucessful, they will change their poitison, but I find that to be the flaw of today's designers who— like you've said about ad campagins— treat social good design as a pat-on-the-back, portfillo builder exercise.

On Sep.26.2006 at 11:54 PM
avisualperson’s comment is:

hi thomas,

makes perfect sense what you're saying, and I'd love to figure who is leading "us" into the next decade or century.

and, if its possible to determine what drives 30something designers, well of course, I can imagine its life and its bills. with that said, professors today may very well hold the keys, but also, designers of a particular age who might have interns, or might speak at local design schools, or become mentors to college-level design clubs, etc.; all these activities aren't about the practice of design, but letting the next generation think a bit on their power/responsibility, as they might have more energy to, you know, save the world.

perhaps you're speaking for yourself and the majority of wisened designers who have "retired" from activism, but if someone like Milton Glaser who is pushing 80 can give a damn, then we'd only hope that the Milton Glasers of 2040 will give a damn also. with that said; I'd second the nomination for Armin Vit.

On Oct.05.2006 at 06:42 PM
Armin’s comment is:

I don't give a damn. I just pretend like I do.

Emoticon required ; )

On Oct.06.2006 at 07:48 AM
Unnikrishna Menon Damodaran’s comment is:

Yes. Change is the only thing which is permanent.

After listening to the podcast (Thanks to http://www.hellerbooks.com/docs/podcasts.html) two times,
i have changed my opinion.

Designism is something we must develop especially in these troubled times all around the world.

Sitting in Saudi Arabia and listening to the event in the US was a great experience, though it was not live.

Thanks to all great designers.

On Nov.15.2006 at 04:36 AM
marguerita’s comment is:

I believe that what we all need is a moment of meditation ,to think about being honest and sincere.We do not need another ISM,in our lives.
Just a basic common sense and asocial awareness.
This is a call for every individual,on his own to behave with a sense of conscience. That is how my parents were brought up,and their ancestors well known in Europe,for centuries.Although both end up being the only survivors,after Hitler's calamity and I the only descendant,I feel on my skin and stand for these values.It is sad,that although having such a real background and human nature's knowledge.I am considered a threat by a number of
persons who helped by circumstances have been in fact contributors to the miasma status quo.
Now the same characters are trying to muddy the waters again,by jumping on the bandwagon creating a travesti about the malaise and not offering any positive solutions.Enough of this empty and hypocritical "social change words".
Let the truth prevail.
believe that what we all need is a moment of meditation ,to think about being honest and sincere.We do not need another ISM,in our lives.
Just a basic common sense and asocial awareness.
This is a call for every individual,on his own to behave with a sense of conscience. That is how my parents were brought up,and their ancestors well known in Europe,for centuries.Although both end up being the only survivors,after Hitler's calamity and I the only descendant,I feel on my skin and stand for these values.It is sad,that although having such a real background and human nature's knowledge.I am considered a threat by a number of
persons who helped by circumstances have been in fact contributors to the miasma status quo.
Now the same characters are trying to muddy the waters again,by jumping on the bandwagon creating a travesti about the malaise and not offering any positive solutions.Enough of this empty and hypocritical "social change words".
Let the truth prevail.
http://atireugram.blogspot.com/2007/12/women-will-never-be-rock-star-designers.html


On Dec.13.2007 at 05:20 PM
marguerita’s comment is:

I believe that what we all need is a moment of meditation ,to think about being honest and sincere.We do not need another ISM,in our lives.
Just a basic common sense and asocial awareness.
This is a call for every individual,on his own to behave with a sense of conscience. That is how my parents were brought up,and their ancestors well known in Europe,for centuries.Although both end up being the only survivors,after Hitler's calamity and I the only descendant,I feel on my skin and stand for these values.It is sad,that although having such a real background and human nature's knowledge.I am considered a threat by a number of
persons who helped by circumstances have been in fact contributors to the miasma status quo.
Now the same characters are trying to muddy the waters again,by jumping on the bandwagon creating a travesti about the malaise and not offering any positive solutions.Enough of this empty and hypocritical "social change words".
Let the truth prevail.
believe that what we all need is a moment of meditation ,to think about being honest and sincere.We do not need another ISM,in our lives.
Just a basic common sense and asocial awareness.
This is a call for every individual,on his own to behave with a sense of conscience. That is how my parents were brought up,and their ancestors well known in Europe,for centuries.Although both end up being the only survivors,after Hitler's calamity and I the only descendant,I feel on my skin and stand for these values.It is sad,that although having such a real background and human nature's knowledge.I am considered a threat by a number of
persons who helped by circumstances have been in fact contributors to the miasma status quo.
Now the same characters are trying to muddy the waters again,by jumping on the bandwagon creating a travesti about the malaise and not offering any positive solutions.Enough of this empty and hypocritical "social change words".
Let the truth prevail.
http://atireugram.blogspot.com/2007/12/women-will-never-be-rock-star-designers.html


On Dec.13.2007 at 05:26 PM