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Before I get started, let me just briefly say; I love the design industry's ability for introspection. I love that as a community, not only do we constantly ask where we are heading, but also what we're achieving. We have created a rich and diverse industry where our dialogue has deepened our understanding of the work we do, why we do it, and who we do it for.
We rarely have a design publication or event that doesn't try and tackle the question "what's the future of Australian graphic design?". It's an interesting question that forces us to both re-evaluate what we believe in, and what we are trying to achieve, locally and internationally. It usually leads to some great discourse, though (in my opinion) rarely action. My only beef with this is simple - it's like we're looking for leadership and approval at the same time, from whom, only god knows.
Whilst we are making great changes and improvements to our profession as a whole, I feel we've lost the link to our somewhat more radical and expressive past. I'm sure it's partly due to my generation being one of the most apathetic and politically uninvolved generations to date, but I feel we've lost a connection to real dialogue. Can't design help change opinions? Can't it open minds to feel empathy?.. hell, what happened to our discussion on ethics?
We're part of a global community that acknowledges our ability to ensure an idea or statement is successful in being adopted by the viewer, thus the efficacy of our work is usually measured in terms of profits or 'conversions'. It's great when I'm responsible for my clients achieving a sizeable profit margin, but it also doesn't tick off all the boxes for me as a creative.
If we are such a integral part of the mix, why are we content with our place to just help someone's bottom line? We all have financial responsibilities we cannot ignore, yet collectively, we're not doing as much as we could be in helping change negative political ideologies, help bridge cultural divides or provide design solutions to help strengthen our communities.
It's like we're sitting on the sidelines waiting for a creative Joan of Arc, full of visions from Stefan Sagmeister and the ghost of Paul Rand entrusting us to change the world.
I know what you're thinking, "what have you done about it?", and it's true. It's easier said than done... but I hope to make a difference, even if by providing a stronger contribution. As for the future of Aussie design? Maybe lets not ask what it will be, lets determine it ourselves through action.
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