Graphic design, though mute and simple, has the ability to influence emotions. I *heart* NY designer, Milton Glaser, discussed how his creation shifted the city’s conscience from being indifferent to declaring love for a place. A design, simple in color and type, made an average New Yorker stop and proclaim a sense of pride in where they are from. Power rested in these four characters.
A design finds its power in the ability to operate by interruption. Whether walking through Newhouse hallways or through H&M, when you do a double-take at a design, it has interrupted you.
Glaser said this, “Everything is related and defined by its opposite.” He may have been referring to the use of color or value or type. But as a Black woman, I have a very intimate interpretation of that sentiment. Everything is defined by its opposite. The social construction of whiteness as pure, pristine, and good innately defines Blackness as its antipode…leaving it to mean dirty, dark, and bad. Because blackness has overwhelmingly negative connotations in the societal context, Black people are unjustly dehumanized, demonized, and innately linked to criminality.
Art can play a vital role in helping to bring awareness to and dismantle negative stereotypes that blame people with non-heteronormative identities as the cause of societal plagues. The film discussed the button series that used simple design and type to protest political and social systems. It is a delight to see a portion of graphic design informing and inciting change amongst the public.