Designers as Authors

If we speak on a business vantage point, the designer should perform and create wealth. But as an artist/author you should share to the world, or just to yourself a vision of beauty or ugly. I agree with messengers. People that can use a talent to express something. The meaning of words and images. Communicate information to the public. We have to understand the culture and our receivers. But as an artist i don’t have to care about it. I create art for myself, for the world or the trash can. As a designer, i try to put food on my table and maybe push the bar of innovation. We put visual language to a use. I might be trying to sell you something. Creativity is a synonym to adaptation. Artists and designers like Platon, manage to tell a story with one photography. Designers are part of the message. They use different tools to serve that visual story. They are authors.

Design is not just about juxtaposing icons in ways that – so to speak – disarm them, but about manipulating the meaning of what the visual and verbal languages we use are expressing, in order to formulate a message of their own. Designers put visual languages to a use. 

Lecture, Johannesburg (SA), Lisbon (PT) September 2001

I do not think we are a post-multimedia generation. We are right in the middle of it and i can’t see it peaking. We are in the digital era. Multimedia affects our lives everyday through social media and advertising. The messages are different depending on the designers needs and intentions. Some try to change your political views or sell you merchandise. We do not need to agree with it. It is easy to throw stones at designers that focus solely on advertising but i think it is up to them to use there talent as they please. They probably work on all kinds of different projects. Find one, talk to him or her. What they sell for work not necessarily express what they work on all the time. It makes me think about this perpetual comparison between mainstream and the underground culture. If its mainstream its essentially dog shit. I am not ok with that point of view. If someone goes mainstream and strike it lucky. Props to him or her. Picasso and The Rolling Stones are mainstream icons but it doesn’t take anything away from the genius. The responsibility is in the consumer’s hands. Ads will always be part of our lives as long as we evolve in a free capitalist society. WE decide what to watch, buy or where we log in. Ultimately, we choose the impact of advertising on our lives. Some are better than others at sending a message or thrive at business. The overall receiver’s lazy attitude towards consuming choices is the main factor of a ¨harmful code of public discourse¨. All the tools are available to make better choices nowadays. We never had access to so much information in the history of mankind. Pick your horse. How can it be reductive when you can read Harvard material from a device in your pocket. Connected to the world. Skip the ads. Platon is a photographer and all major magazines reach out to him for photographs that will talk to the public. People will buy the magazines, read some of its content and get some ads at the same time. Platon is a designer. His talent to make a picture tell a story is also used to sell a product. Information, art, design and philosophy have value. Sometimes a price tag. The rest is up to the consumer.

Many of us have grown increasingly uncomfortable with this view of design. Designers who devote their efforts primarily to advertising, marketing and brand development are supporting, and implicitly endorsing, a mental environment so saturated with commercial messages that it is changing the very way citizen-consumers speak, think, feel, respond and interact. To some extent we are all helping draft a reductive and immeasurably harmful code of public discourse.

manifesto published jointly by 33 signatories in:
Adbusters, the AIGA journal, Blueprint, EmigreEyeFormItems
fall 1999 / spring 2000


photo credit: Platon

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