Sunday, 15 April 2012


Hey guys, i haven't actually posted on the blog for a while because i don't have interwebs access at home :(

But i DO have a some stuff from half term that i forgot to post before going, and i'll have the follow up stuff ready sometime tomorrow methinks.


Ethics in Design > Personal Ethics

I'm going to attack this debate from both sides, firstly, anti-commercial design or "selling out"
So how do personal ethics affect the designer?

Well, an obvious case is being offered a job or brief by a client who's activities go against your moral principles. An anti-war campaigner, for instance, would not accept the task of creating US Army recruitment posters. Similarly, somebody with strong views on economical issues would not accept a job to oversee advertisements for Shell.

But these are extremes, and the chances of a designer recieving such a job that is so strongly against their beliefs is hardly a recurring issue.

On a much more common basis, however, there is a real risk that by creating corporate, business or commercial graphics, a designer risks backing the much harder to define 'issue' of majority discourse; i.e., by not changing anything and feeding into the circle, they increase the likelihood that our current capitalist and greed orientated culture will continue to grow.

THIS LINK to an article i'm posting is a designer reasoning why this isn't a bad thing; he uses an installation designer as an example, showing one of her works that sells for a frankly obscene amount of cash and how this is selling out because fine artists have artistic integrity.

The important part is where he says that "Designers acknowledge that what they are making is commercial."

                              Thus, if all we are making is commercial... WE are commercial?

I would like to think that designers are still artists and creatives in their own right, not vending machines or corporate tools, and so i take issue with this observation. Although i agree that we cannot change culture for the better entirely, we have to start somewhere, and i will be exploring the theory that design is that place.

Later on he does say that " In my book it’s just another reason to look inside for affirmation of the value of your work", which i think is  where we are on the same page; i think your work should be important to you and enjoyable, not motivated entirely by money.

The devil's advocate would say these jobs are necessary to fund designers, hence why i will no doubt die poor...

Anyway, how do you guys feel about all this? Are commercial graphics abhorrent to you, a necessity, or just a fact of life?

Or, do you like the idea of feeding into the capitalist model?

Thoughts, opinions, stick 'em below!


  1. In the comments i read this, and i think it is very apt;

    "In one way it’s selling out, in another it’s business. I like to strike a balance and be firm about what I won’t do when designing.

    I also don’t feel like I’m selling out because I create alot of work for myself and others which is purely for aesthetic enjoyment. Sometimes it’s work the client didn’t like, but I keep it, work on it, and i have something that is closer to the definition ‘fine art’ and i think as long as you have a balance and a personal body of work that is created in your vision and for aesthetic purposes and you can stay grounded, it’s not too bad earning a bit of money doing other jobs!"

    The gist is that it is only 'selling out', or unethical on a personal level, if you focus on it alone.

    And thus, if a designer WANTS to create commercial graphics solely for personal profit, that is completely ethical.

    The only issue is for those who are conflicted by circumstance or opportunity.

  2. I feel that while it is important to pay the bills it is not the be all and end all. I d like to think that in my career if I do not agree with te reason behind a job I will not do said job . however we all know this is more easily said then done we will see how this theory plays out next year wen we finish the course.

    In the meantime I am going to continue to work for the enjoyment of working, exploreing and experimenting. A lot of the time I find if I am not happy and comfortable with what I think I'm about to produce or am produceing I change what I'm doing. I also find myself holding onto bits of work that I see potential into play around with and improve or use for a differnt purpose that just wasn't up to the initial job it was being designed for. And as far as selling out goes I feel that as long as I stick to my morals and am not produceing stuff just because it pays the rent I don't think you can truely be a sell out.