Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The other day in my graphic design class we had an intersting discussion that got me thinking about a few things. We were considering graphic design and advertising. What are the distinctions? are they the same? At first I suggested that advertising is a sub-category of graphic design, but then as I thought about it and heard what others had to say I'm thinking it may be more nuanced than that. Designing something in an attractive way, wether it be a poster, a book, a sign or an ad presents that something, and the values and ideals attached to it, in a more appealing way, giving it an image of credibility and quality. The question of morality came up. We are familiar with ads which try to make you feel bad about yourself and therefore more inclined to purchase a product. Or even misrepresenting the truth and making what is actually bad for you seem appealing. Examples of this are manifest in our culture, just look around critically. What is most concerning for me is presenting certain negative and harmful values as glamorous or normalizing them. And this goes beyond graphic design, although that's a dominant element of culture which permates our lives, to music, movies...basically any means of transmitting culture. I know I at least at times will catch myself singing a song with a catchy tune but an objectional message which I know to be false. Even knowing it to be false the appeal of the tune can influence me on some level to emotionally accept the message of the song. Same goes with something visually well presented. That being said advertising in and of itself is morally neutral, it becomes a problem when we use it to manipulate people or "sell" a product or message that is false rather than using it to serve others. So what does this have to do with me? The reason why I'm trying out graphic design is not that I'm interested in selling something like toothpaste or making a profit so much (not that there is anything wrong with that), it's because I think the skill would be useful to have for designing material that will present the faith effectively. The challenge for me, and this would apply to me as an artist whether or not I continue with graphic design, is presenting the message behind an image or design in a way that doesn't compromise the freedom of or manipulate the viewer. Presenting something in a visually attractive way is necessary (to a degree) if you want people today to even consider the merit of your message on its own terms. The question becomes how do you present or "market" the gospel in a visually compelling way while at the same time encouraging people to think for themselves rather than assimulating a message, no matter how good, based on the aesthetic value of its presentation rather than its actual merit. Granted nothing has more merit than Jesus but still this is a concern for me. I don't want to "brainwash" people, but I do hope to influence them. What are the distinctions between the two? Input appreciated!
Posted by Shana at 12:27 PM