During a “Big Think” interview with designer Milton Glaser says that the ultimate challenge for designers is to create beautiful, not just sustainable, design. Glaser believes that we respond to beauty as a species; beauty is the means by which we move towards the attentiveness that protects our species as a survival mechanism. Glaser thinks that ultimately it’s the responsibility of the graphic designer to inform and delight by creating beautiful designs.
Social responsibility in graphic design has advocates in both the private sector and the public sector, in large organizations and small, and on an individual basis.
Since 1942 the Ad Council has been addressing critical social issues. Campaigns like “Rosie the Riveter,” “Smokey the Bear,” and “Crash Test Dummies” have delivered critical messages to the American public. A private, non-profit organization, the Ad Council uses volunteer talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities.
Graphic designers like Tibor Kalman prodded fellow designers to take responsibility for their work as designer-citizens. Throughout his career he urged designers to question the effects of their work and refuse to accept any client’s product at face value. Kalman inspired graphic designers to use their work to increase public awareness of a variety of social issues.
Across the globe as well as on an individual level, graphic designers are being challenged to create work that’s socially responsible. Read about “Water for India,” an example of teaching social responsibility.