The impact of purposeful design

I’ve always considered myself more of a thinking and intellectual person over a visual one; even if it’s only slightly weighted, and so for me, design is purely, beautifully, focused on the articulation and clarity in communication. I was attending a class on graphic design history when I heard an incredibly moving anecdote- The story behind El Lissitzsky’s “Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge”, and how a single visual piece of information and it’s creator were able to educate and influence an entire country’s political opinion, even when the majority of this country were illiterate and fearful farmers.

Regardless of political/social opinions, the impact of design can truly be used as a  more powerful, informative, and even an evocative tool, as opposed to just being diluted to serve as a random sampling of collected trends from the past ten decades or slapped on to a banner advertising a new laundry soap for Tide.

The skills I was expected to acquire were more akin to that of a literal visual problem solver. Assignments were conceptual based: building on connotative and denotative associations, deconstructing an image for it’s semiotic meanings, and so on. While these learning curves were exasperating in a 2 week deadline, they undoubtedly instilled in me a rigorous mental acuity for the subjective and conceptual nature that gives a brand legs to stand on, a campaign breadth in room for growth, or even just taking the time and consideration to explore for something greater than just the quick and easy solution.

My concern in all of this is that the way the current model is structured, the strength and possibilities available in a design-as-communication standpoint is now segmented, diluted and corporatized to the point of arbitrary blandness. Does every piece need to move the earth with it’s awesome magnitude of conceptual strength? No, but some substance outside of the Digital Cool Club parade would be nice. Designers can do more than just typeset pop-culture references and take photos of themselves holding posters, and I think those who can articulate and communicate visually should absolutely do so; you should just try and make sure you have something interesting to say.

image sourced from

*thanks for the sassy image, and was that supposed to be an ironic typo? love it

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