Our Guest blogger and friend, Eileen MacAvery Kane, shares her insights on a topic close to my heart.
Ethics is a hot topic in many fields of study these days. Business majors, law students, and those entering the health field are usually required to take courses in ethics. My son, an undergraduate business major, recently took a course on environmental law. The required text was “The Ethics of Climate Change” with a sub-title of “right and wrong in a warming world.” While the term “ethics” often conjures up a visual image of “purity” and seeing things in “black and white,”as my son discovered, ethics is a grey area where right and wrong aren’t always clearly defined.
I’ve worked as a graphic designer for over 25 years and recently completed my MFA in graphic design with a thesis focusing on ethics in graphic design. Since writing a paper, creating a blog, and publishing a field guide on the topic, I’ve had friends and colleagues call me “the ethics lady” and imply that I walk on higher ground because of it. On the contrary, I’m no more (or less) ethical than the rest of us, just a bit more informed as a result of my research.
When I started working with this topic I thought because of my extensive industry experience I would know most topics dealing ethics in graphic design. As I began to talk to industry professionals, educators, and students I soon discovered topics that I hadn’t even considered. Graphic designers deal with all kinds of ethical issues on a daily basis—crowd sourcing, cronyism, sustainability, photo manipulation, copyright, cultural influence, corporate sponsorships, font licensing, and responsibility to their clients are just a few.
Informed and responsible graphic design firms can help their clients navigate through these issues and create branding and marketing materials that are ethical on all fronts.