Rules for School (and to live and work by)


Dear Design Student” is an advice blog for designers by designers. A recent post written by Mike Monteiro entitled “A Designer’s Code of Ethics” hits hard at the core of design practice and what all students and educators, as well as designers, should be thinking about school is about to go back in session.

Designers create a lot of ephemera during their careers. Advertisements, brochures, websites, products, and packages all have a limited shelf life and it’s easy to think that what we do doesn’t have a lasting effect. One of the easiest ways you can test this is if you lose your files. It has happened to me more than once, and while there is always one thing you will need, most of it you will never touch again. Students may feel the same way once they receive their grades.

Monteiro offers a counterpoint to this belief when he says, “by choosing to be a designer you are choosing to impact the people who come in contact with your work, you can either help or hurt them with your actions. The effect of what you put into the fabric of society should always be a key consideration in your work.”

He goes onto to discuss how important the work we make is and how important it is to NOT abdicate responsibility. We need to think about what we do and where it ends up, and more importantly, who or what it represents. He states, “we need to fear the consequences of our work more than we love the cleverness of our ideas.”

The idea that a designer is hired for their counsel as well as their labor is extremely important. A good designer strikes a delicate balance of listening, interpreting, and advising—as well as designing. Monteiro asserts that “a designer uses their expertise in the service of others without being a servant and that “asking ourselves why we are making something is an infinitely better question than asking ourselves whether we can make it.”

Monteiro’s article raises other issues like designing for the marginalized, or rather the common practice of not designing for them as well as diversity, competition, and self-reflection.

As you get ready to go back to school or simply continue with your design practice, it’s well worth the read.


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