Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Where is the Design Profession Headed?

I have to apologize. I've not written for a month. It will sound cliche' to say that I am very busy, but it is true. In any event, I desire to keep on keeping on.

I have a concern about the field of graphic design. I am not concerned about whether it will survive or disappear. I am not concerned about the amount of work that will be available for design businesses or employees. I am not even concerned about the amount of jobs in the future. In fact, it seems from some industry reports that design is experiencing a resurgence of business.

However, I am concerned about its understandability in certain sectors of the marketplace, and its respectability. Why? Many are entering the field with little or no knowledge of the history of design, the role of aesthetics in communication, or even the pursuit of higher goals than making environmentally-friendly printed matter.

The other reason is that many in our culture devalue beauty, art, and truth. Their highest pursuits become nothing higher than wealth, the banal, and the demeaning. With these factors in play, design becomes little more than a set of techniques, manipulations of text and color, and shock-value images.

And what frightens me more, is that this sort of design gets awards. True, a lot of very good work is still promoted by our industry, and it is true that many businesses and organizations appreciate good design and consistent messaging. But the other stuff is growing, and the design industry needs to wake up. The danger in continuing down this path is that it affects how the average person views a design professional—whether as an employee or as a business.

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