Friday, 25 February 2011

Critical Debates In Design: Task 5: Ethics And Social Responsibilities

Just like everybody else I have my own ethics and values so I am trying to reflect them to my life as much as possible, however I have never been interested in politic matters at all. It might sound naive but my political opinion is peace for everyone. It is not only because war is a horrible thing, I strongly believe that in our condition right now, people's priorities should be more different rather than the upcoming elections or the conflicts between their political ideologies. There are still millions of children dying from hunger and backward illnesses or can't get a proper education, millions of people lives at the streets and the worst thing is with our thoughtless abuse we are actually killing the world and all its resources. So soon, there isn't going to be a land or oil or water to fight over. In this manner, I strongly reject to discriminate people -especially the one's in need- against their religion, political opinion or country and I reject to fight over those meaningless issues.

In the future, hopefully one day if I have my own company or even when I am working for someone else I will do my best to convey my ideas, ethics and my modality to my work and people around me. Of course, after people in need, sustainability and environment should be our top issues right now. In my estimation designers can do a lot with only small changes unless they have enough information about the subject. Eventually, all the printed media send to the press house from the hands of the designers. If only they choose the right paper, the right ink or at least try to eliminate unnecessary pages, I am sure we can save a lot more than we imagine. Consequently, to support and investigate my approach deeper, I choose to write about people who has opinions out of the boundaries instead of big, corporate design groups, which are mainly; Shepard Fairey and Thomas Matthews Design Group.

1. Shepard Fairey - Hope!

Shepard Fairley's collaboration with the legendary photographer Al Rockoff, "Duality Of Humanity" series- the 5th piece.

Frank Shepard Fairey is an American contemporary graphic designer and illustrator, who has started his profession with skateboarding design. He first became known for his "Andre The Giant Has A Posse - Obey" sticker campaign, in which he appropriated images from the comedic supermarket tabloid Weekly World News. His work became more widely known in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, specially his "Barack Obama - Hope" poster. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston announce him one of today's best known and most influential street artists. His work is included in the collections at The Smithsonian, the Los Angles Country Museum of Art, MOMA in New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Therefore, I really admire Fairey's political approach and the way he reflects his opinions to his artwork. All the way from a street graffiti artist to becoming a worldwide known cult graphic artist, he never compromise from his anti-war opinions and guerrilla-style, handmade techniques.

"Barack Obama - Hope" poster 2008 by Fairey, the original image is now at Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery.
Fairey created a series of posters supporting Barack Obama's 2008 candidancy for President of the United States, including the iconic Hope portrait. Right now the poster is known to be the most efficacious American political illustration since "Uncle Sam Wants You". Shepard Fairey also created an exclusive design for "Rock the Vote", it is because the Hope poster had been "perpetuated illegally" and independently by the street artist, the Obama campaign declined to have any legal or direct relation with it. However the campaign officially disavowed any involvement in the creation or popularization of the poster, Fairey has commented in his interviews that he was in communication with the campaign officials during the period of the poster's release. Fairey has started that original version featured the world "Progress" instead of "Hope", and that within weeks of its release, the campaign managers requested that he issue a new version, keeping the powerful image of Obama's face but captioning it with the word "Hope" again. The campaign openly embraced the revised poster along with two additional Fairey posters that featured the words "Change" and "Vote".

The Obama Campaign officers authorize the distribution of 300,000 stickers and 500,000 posters during the campaign, in February 2008, Fairey received a letter of thanks from Obama for his contribution to the campaign, the letter said; "I would like to thank you for using your talent in support of my campaign. The political messages involved in your work have encouraged Americans to believe they can change the status-quo. Your images have a profound effect on people, whether seen in a gallery or on a stop sign. I am privileged to be a part of your artwork and proud to have your support.- Barack Obama, February 22, 2008". I personally find this message very modest and it proves the world that they were right about Obama. Even though it undeniable that the poster's contribution to the campaign, I strongly believe that Obama truly identifies with the idea of hope and progress not only for Americans, but also for the rest of the world.

Reference Websites
Artists in 60 Seconds, Available at;, Shepard Fairey Biography, Available at;  
Interview Magazine, Available at;, Shepard Fairey Interview by Iggy Pop, Available at;
Obey Giant, Worldwide Propaganda, Available at;
Studio Number 1, Available at;, About: Executive Creative Director, Shepard Fairey, Available at; 
The New York Times, Available at;, Shepard Fariey News, Available at;
Washington Post, Available at;, Shepard Fairey Article, Available at;

2.Thomas.Matthews - No Shop

An image from Thomas.Matthews' website, their motto is "We believe in good design, appropriate, sustainable and beautiful".

Thomas Matthews is a leading practice in a field that they called sustainable communications. They produce high quality, innovative design at a time when simplicity of solution and clarity of message matters. Their lovely motto is "We believe in good design, appropriate, sustainable and beautiful", which I couldn't agree more. The word appropriate in their motto means; communicating the message through the most effective way to the right audience, sustainable define as design that has embedded systemic sustainability, and beautiful, through the creation of an eye catching and well-crafted outcome. Therefore, modern world's designers should consider every aspect of the project that they are working on. Besides good design such matters like; sustainability, consistence to the environment, and re-usability are extremely important issues.

They have worked with global corporations, architects and planners, museums, governments and world changing NGOs to create a whole range of projects. Their approach to design is keeping sustainability in mind in every project, whether it's design for branding, consultation, campaigns, print, web, signage or exhibitions. Most of the time, good intention lost in design that does not fulfill the vision behind it. Therefore, when I was flickering through their portfolio, I observe that they truly reflect their ethics perfectly to every project. According to me, the priorities are changing, design and communication need to reduce negative environmental impacts and enhance the positives within society. Not just because it's the right thing to do, but also this opens up a whole new creative world. Consequently, sustainability in business should give integrity, not greenwash and should inspire change from your consumers and clients.

"No Shop", client; Friends of the Earth, location; National Campaign Launched in London, 1997.

No Shop is a temporary installation devised to draw media attention to the launch of International No Shop Day in the UK. Th brief that Thomas Matthews received for this project was designing posters to appear in public libraries, however they cleverly revised the brief and created an anti-poster project. The shop posters were screenprinted over recycled sales billboards and they use nothing but a very simple typography to make their point. Despite the launch being over ten years ago - and only open for three days- it is still shown around the world as an illustration of the movement against over consumption. I believe the contemporary design treatment and concept will allow these images to forever be revised. And now the anti-poster is set to feature within 21st International Poster and Graphic Festival in Chaumont, France. Consequently, I find Thomas Matthews' approach on design and sustainability very successful, hope I can fallow their footsteps and create a similar agency in my own country. 

Reference Websites
Creative Review, Available at;
Friends Of The Earth, Official Website, Available at;, No Shop Press Preview, Available at;
Osocio, Social Advertising And Non-Profit Campaigns Around The Globe, Available at;, Thomas Matthews, Profile, Available at;   
Thomas.Matthews, Official Website, Available at;
Thomas.Matthews, Portfolio, Available at;

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