Sunday, 15 April 2012

First Things First Manifesto (Exercise 4)

I did not discuss this with a group as a such only with a friend who is also finishing off his degree in graphic design, but here is what we were able to extract from the manifesto :

In short the manifesto itself aims to make designers aware that in one way or another the skill we learn are being exploited for profit. As my friend pointed out, we as students have often been confronted with the 'what are you going to do after school' type of question. For some of us there are answers and not so much for others, but what I have learned throughout my college years is that the responses of the majority of people faced with the above question usual involves helping others make a profit.

Question : "What do you want to do after school?"
Answer: "I want to work on adverts"
Specific Answer : "I want to work as a 3D modeler in the multimedia field, you know doing adverts and stuff"

These are just some examples of answers that I have been given, and even I at one point said something similar when somebody asked me what it is that I wanted to do. The designers that signed the First things First manifesto are trying to get people away from that mindset. There are those who want to make money with their design, and then there are those who just love what they do, so in a nutshell Fist Things First is saying to us designers that yes, we love what we do but making a profit is just one of the aspects of the industry. Designers don't exist solely to make a profit for others which is what the manifesto clearly outlines. Designers have largely become people who make money for others, and that in turn helps them pay the bills. We live in a consumerist society where design is almost always applied to 'things' which the manifesto outlines as 'inessential at best'. Design can be defined with two simple words : problem solving, and we have somehow become a byproduct of the world of 'stuff' where we use these problem solving skills to sell things to others, not ideas but material possessions.

The Manifesto proposes a 'reverse in priorities', sure the corporate jobs pay the bills but there are are larger problems with the world that we as designers should address. It's a difficult thing to think about especially living here in South Africa. We have many social, political and economic problems that one would rather forget about and it seems to me that in the general scheme of things design is not seen to be as important or valuable as it is seen in other countries. We are still a growing nation and Africa has its own flavor of design that rivals the rest of the world, and I personally think that it's a good opportunity to explore the world of design through helping various causes. Quite a number of industry professionals suggest having at least one pro bono client - meaning that you would work either for free or at a reduced rate to provide a public service. Clients like charities and environmental awareness campaigns fall into the pro bono category and provide a means for the designer to help a cause. South Africa has plenty of opportunities for this kind of work, and even though it's free, it is also an opportunity for the designer to show off his skills. In several of his talks one of my favorite designers Stefan Bucher talks about 'Greed Control' - the idea where as the greed for money increases, the quality of the work goes down. This is evident in people who's primary goal for design work is monetary compensation, if you want more money you're going to start choosing clients who pay you the most and those clients may not necessarily let you work on the most exciting and ambitious projects but rather have you churn out average work. I've been skeptical about it in the past but I definitely think that there is potential, even in this country for designers to really achieve something, and in turn let people know how important the world of design really is.

First Things First Manifesto :
Stefan Bucher Talk :

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