Make A Difference

Good Design Good Life Exhibit in TokyoDo Good Design For Good

“It’s easy to make a buck, a lot harder to make a difference.”Tom Brokaw

“What you do for yourself dies with you. What you do for others and the world lives on and is immortal.”—Albert Pine

“We are not going to change the world, but we can certainly be a supporter of changing the world by creating great design… by helping to communicate the message.and wouldn’t you rather design trying?

Indaba—Zulu for gathering of people                                             

Design Indaba—a better world through creativity

According to AIGA, “Design for Good” is a platform that creates opportunities for
designers to build their practice, their network, and their visibility.” A new book that will help guide any designer with a desire to help their community: The Design Activist’s Handbook by Noah Scalin and Michelle Taute. It offers practical and inspiring advice on how you can become your own change agent in your community. Also check out Neenah Paper’s website. Specifically their Against the Grain blog.
It would be a very poor and unsuccessful designer who believed that his or her design was the message. It would be a rather irresponsible designer who believed that his or her design was the star of the show. Such people do not last long in the industry because there is little tolerance for such irresponsibility where quantifiable results matter.

Design, by its very nature, is collaboration. Design, by its very nature, is an exercise in playing a supporting role. Design is also, by its very nature, an imperative for successful communication because human beings habitually respond to line, form, texture, color and composition in largely predictable ways. The differences in communication success between well designed media and poorly designed media cannot be denied.

So questions of whether or not graphic design really makes a difference can only be posed from the position of a false premise. Questioning how design makes a difference is perhaps a more worthwhile exercise. Design is not the message, but I also know that a great design can be the pivotal factor in the success of that message.

Keeping in mind that if you were to design a perfect graphic design, it is not able to stand alone; a message must accompany it for it to be complete.

Graphic design always makes a difference, however, how much of a difference does it make?

I feel that everything can make a difference. If you don’t believe in at least trying to make as big of a difference as you can with the tools that you offer (graphic design in this case), then you shouldn’t call yourself a designer. Please call what you do something else, may I suggest the following: communication materials decorator, marketing materials stylist, website visual effect specialist, type artist…whatever it is, just leave design out of it.

A good design has the power to grab attention and make people think differently about the world they live in. Is that a leading role or just a supporting one? Or is that just an irrelevant question?

Ultimately the designer chooses what messages he or she wants to put out into the world. Would you design for Exxon, McDonalds or the Project for the New American Century? Or would you choose Greenpeace instead?

Of course graphic design makes a difference. Design is about solving problems of communication. 

Attributes of a successful Design For Good project—Doug Powell

  • active involvement of a multi-disciplinary team
  • a committed client
  • designer/facilitator
  • careful focus on the core problem
  • human-centered methodology
  • long-term commitment for sustainability
  • including a goal of fund-raising

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