Thursday, March 17, 2011

Graphic designers wrestle with consciences





There's a dust-up in the design community over this poster. The basic issue is: effective and smart way to fundraise, or despicable self-promotion?

Many designers are objecting to the guy who made the poster putting his logo and contact info on it, with no contact info for a charity. He says he is forwarding proceeds from the sale of this poster to Red Cross.

He doesn't specify but we shall assume he is keeping some money to cover the cost of business. How much? We won't ever know.

But hang on. Registered charities don't exactly advertise how much they keep either. Leaving their name off allows the viewer to consider whatever charity they like. As for signing it, I really prefer knowing who is behind a message. AND - since when did designers frown upon other designers receiving credit for their work, not to mention compensation? Haven't we been trying to get those rights through the heads of clients and students and the public?

The designer and purchaser here are also accused of indulging in "disaster porn." This is a paradox that is inherent in visual and even written communication: you can't show something and control exactly how it is to be taken. Some people will always read against the "preferred reading" (author's intent). As for the charge of exploiting a tragedy --- well, that will only hold true if he keeps more money than he'd have been paid by Red Cross if they'd commissioned the poster.

Why do we bother developing our talents if we're only going to be condemned for using them?

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