What is Wrong With Graphic Design? // CTS

In this session we discussed how underrated certain fields of graphic design actually are. As designers we can alter this and allow ourselves to be heard. Our creative field is often one where you are only recognised if you are well known. This does not have to be the case. With things such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media, designers can share their work as well as their views and opinions. They have the ability to change things and they way they are perceived.

The beginning of this lecture demonstrated how underrated designers are by showing a list of results that are received when searching for “noteable British graphic designers”, most of the results were either not British, mostly men, mostly white, or in some cases, not even designers. It showed how the way we perceive design as a nation can be wrongly influenced by our sources. To me, this highlighted the fact that designers do not get the recognition that they deserve and also, it showed how easy it actually is to look over their work.

Social media can be a huge help to designers in this situation. It gives the designer a potential voice that they would not have otherwise and also helps them make other artists recognised. An example of this is when designer, Ruth Sykes (@RegDesign_Ruth) argued the fact that the symbol, which was created to represent the jobs page of the website belonging to Design Week, was too masculine. As a female designer, Sykes decided to tweet Design Week (@Design_Week) highlighting the fact that the symbol suggested that the jobs were only for male figures. Also, the tie was not the best symbol that could have been used as it does not suggest jobs in the design industry.

After communication between both Ruth Sykes and Design Week, the symbol was soon changed to a clipboard. this was more suggestive of a ‘job’ and also, did not appear to be gender specific. This was a great example of using social media to make a change as a designer.

Sykes then realised that she had a power to make a change, she decided to put this into practice when stumbling across an article by ‘Grafik’, an online magazine. The article was titled ‘XX Rated’ and its subject was about women in design/ research group about women. Obviously, this suggests that the article is explicit. Skyes pointed out how this could be demeaning to women in design and that in fact, there is nothing wrong with women in design. She tweeted Grafik magazine highlighting this which later caused uproar. After an exchange of words, and an excuse using the fact that ‘XX’ actually resembles the chemical build up of DNA in female anatomy, the article was removed from the site. This is not what Sykes intended but it shows just how much designers can have through social media.

During this part of the lecture, it was also brought to my attention that women have a much harder time being recognised as graphic designers. A pure example of this is that of Eileen Evans. Eileen Evans was a graphic designer who worked together with her husband. Wikipedia refused to give Evans her own Wikipedia page as she was only seen as the ‘layout and typography artist’. This was obviously unacceptable to people teamed up to cite the sources to prove that Eileen Evans herself was actually a graphic designer who also deserved her own Wikipedia page. From this other organisations have been established to help women in graphic design. These include websites such as ‘womenofgraphicdesign.org’ and twitter accounts such as ‘@graphics_uk_women’.

As a practical part of this lecture, we demonstrated how social media can be used as a platform to change or influence opinion as well as promoting other graphic designers. we decided to each make a twitter account and pitch our ideas for an attention-grabbing hashtag suggesting underrated designers. Our group pitched the hashtag ‘#HellWhoDesignedThat?’. We thought this would be attractive to the reader as it was quite expressive and would intrigue them as to what it was about. Also, it could be used by designers to promote their work and others work as well as being used by the public as a means to communicate with others to discover the artist of a piece of work.

Click here to be taken to my professional twitter page.

Overall, text and imagery were discussed with examples of the tweets and discussions between designers and organisations. The fact that a small amount of colloquial text that is sometimes accompanied by an image can make a huge difference to something is a very powerful thought. With things such as twitter, there is a limit to four photos and 140 characters, this makes you consider what it is you want to say and how you want to say it. This could also effect how much of an impact your message has on the recipient. Twitter can be used as a commentary tool. In this case, it was used to discuss the issues within graphic design as an industry. Text can be in the form of hashtags to group something together that is related and relevant. It can also be used as a form or sarcasm which may influence whether people look into the trend. This could help spread the message further as it increases the chance of others seeing it. Also, things such as ‘retweeting’ and ‘favouriting’ of tweets allow the message to be shared amongst many people. This potentially could allow designers to spread each others work via labelling it with a hashtag, favouriting it or retweeting it. This is a strong connection between text and imagery through the use of making underrated graphic designers much more recognised.

Here is a link to the ‘#HellWhoDesignedThat?’ hashtag.


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