Follow the above link to locate the original article by Jessica Helfand.
A brief analysis of the article reveals Jessica’s passion for honesty in graphic design. In her conclusion, she makes the point that we as graphic designers are more than what we do. We’re real people who happen to make graphic design. People with real lives, experiences, and emotions. Rather than strip away all human sentiment from design as per Modernist ideals, Jessica contends that the humanity of the designer should shine through in his or her work. This is the key to generating memorable, effective work.
In class, we reflected upon the article in small groups – touching on both the content and writing style of the article. My group generally liked the article and agreed with Jessica’s emphasis on transparency in design. We also touched on how the ready availability of the Internet has caused our current society to become increasingly desensitized to humor, violence, and even tragedy. It is rare thing indeed to come across something that is truly shocking anymore. The question that remains for us, then, is this: How do we stand out of the crowd? If we follow Jessica’s suggestion, then we embrace honest design. The class as a whole found little to critique about the content of Jessica’s article, but her writing style seemed to bother some people.
Jessica wrote the article as if she were speaking to an audience – that is to say that she ignores the rules of formal prose in favor of a more conversational approach. I personally enjoy reading this writing style because I can envision the speaker as if he or she were actually there and talking directly to me. The downside of this style is that sentences can get so long that it becomes hard to digest. Regardless, if you can forgive the run-ons, this is a concise, enjoyable, and thought-provoking article.