Visual design education is rapidly shifting from Western and print-centric to diversifying with emerging technology and globalization
Yeohyun Ahn Assistant Professor University of Wisconsin-Madison
Graphic Design has been a predominantly white and European-centric academic area deeply rooted in Bauhaus, a German art school from 1919 to 1933, combining crafts and the fine arts to approach constructive and universal design for mass production. It has dominated modern graphic design for over 100 years. Now visual design education is rapidly shifting from Western and print-centric to diversifying with emerging technology and globalization. This research aims to create original and impactful exhibition design and research opportunities (symposium) for academically underrepresented and marginal graphic design educators in the United States. The study investigates the future of visual design education and research, crossing boundaries among creative coding, 3d printing, Guerrilla projection, speculative design, sound, data visualization, augmented reality with activism, and cultural identity impacted by globalization. It results in an original exhibition design that frames a newly curated exhibition. The curated exhibition invites sixteen outstanding visual design educators of the US who are highly regarded but academically undervalued and depreciated from conservative, homogenous, and print-centric professional graphic design communities. The design methodology, Design Thinking, is employed to create the user-friendly and inclusive interface design for the virtual reality gallery. The virtual exhibition brings global exposure and tap into an extensive network of academically underrepresented graphic design educators and underserved audiences. The exhibition visitors gain new in-person and immersive virtual experiences for evolving graphic design. It incubates new visual design perspectives being open-minded, alternative, diverse, and inclusive visual communication design education, practices, research, and communities of the US.
Making Justice Together is a refereed cross-journal special issue edited by Audrey G. Bennett (University of Michigan, USA) that aims to face down injustice and inequity with the dissemination of criticism, history, research, and theory on the use of design resources collaboratively and cross-culturally to yield social justice. We intend the expression making justice together to be read in two ways. First, how can the collaborative processes of designing (making, fabricating, producing, prototyping, speculating, visualizing) integrate concepts of justice (inclusion, equity, diversity, access, freedom, democracy)? Second, how can the social process of justice (in institutions, civic spaces, legal systems, ecosystems, industry) benefit from design knowledge and resources?
Generative Justice in Design
co-edited by Ron Eglash, Ph.D., University of Michigan, USA
Extractive economies, whether capitalist or communist, have similar failures. They extract value from ecological systems in the destruction of nature; from workers in the alienation of labor, and from civic life in the colonization of our social networks. The opposite is a generative economy: one in which value is not extracted, but rather circulated in unalienated form. For all three categories (ecological value, labor value, and social value) generative justice is defined as follows: The universal right to generate unalienated value and directly participate in its benefits; the rights of value generators to create their own conditions of production; and the rights of communities of value generation to nurture self-sustaining paths for its circulation. New opportunities for design in generative justice include agroecology, where forms of organic value circulate from plants to people and back again; commons-based peer production, which ranges from feminist makerspaces to localized currencies; and in platform cooperatives, where worker ownership is creating alternatives for everything from Uber to Facebook. By decolonizing the circular economy, design in generative justice exposes greenwashing and empowers Indigenous, anti-racist and queer theory critiques. How are designers facilitating generative justice, creating new innovations for unalienated value circulation that address grassroots empowerment, egalitarian futures, and ecological collaboration with our nonhuman allies? We seek original papers on this topic to be refereed for free publication in the New Design Ideas
Journal which is indexed in Scopus. Authors should follow the journal’s submission guidelines here and submit papers in APA style to Audrey Bennett (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ron Eglash (email@example.com)
Papers may take one of the following formats:
original articles (5000 words)
state-of-the-art reviews (2500 words)
short communications (1500 words)
Marginalized Identities in the Design of Aesthetics for Resistance
co-edited by Neeta Verma, University of Notre Dame, USA
From the Civil Rights era to present-day movements in the West like Me too and Black Lives Matter, it has been proven that organized resistance can make an impact on policy and bring about social change. Whereas historical protests typically have been centralized around leaders–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement, Nelson Mandella and the Anti-Apartheid Movement, Mahatma Gandhi and the Quit India Movement through satyagraha (true principle and Ahimsa (non-violence)) for India’s Independence from Britain–today’s protests are more centralized around communication technology and media (e.g., #blacklivesmatter, #metoo, etc…). Movements no longer brand the leaders’ identities, instead they brand and operate around the core principles of the movements. What does it mean today to design for resistance particularly in the wake of the “lynching” of George Floyd by Minneapolis police? What are the affordances and constraints of marginalizing human identities and promoting mantras and slogans in the design of aesthetics for resistance? We seek original papers that address these questions and others to be refereed for publication in Image & Text. We invite original articles (5000 words) for peer review. Authors should follow the journal’s submission guidelines here and submit papers using Harvard Reference style to Audrey Bennett (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Neeta Verma (email@example.com).
Interconnected Apart: Design Research(ers) in the Periphery, in Isolation
Social distancing has created unprecedented challenges for underrepresented communities and the designers who work with them. The question is: When proximity and collaboration are constrained, what is the impact? This session will bring together designers who conduct research for and with underrepresented communities that are underserved, economically-disadvantaged, or marginalized. We seek papers that speak to the future of design research for and with communities within the periphery of society in terms of equity and access during this current period of social distancing. We also seek panelists who represent minority groups and can speak on related topics. We are particularly interested in design research and designers that “intersect” two or more underrepresented social and political identities and disciplines of design. We seek original papers on this topic to be refereed for publication in the new Wicked Solutions Research Annual of the CAA Committee on Design and Design Incubation. Papers should take the following format:
original articles (2500 words excluding bibliography) as Microsoft Word documents using Chicago Manual of Style, footnotes, and bibliography format for citations. The paper should include 1) Research question / Problem definition, 2) Methodology / Methods of data collection and analysis, 3) Data analysis and findings, 4) Conclusion, and 5) Bibliography. The content of your paper should include a statement of its original contribution to the discipline supported by an appropriate literature review. Please include four to six keywords with your paper.
Access needs to be core to the design process if we want emerging digital designers to design for the public good.
As a discipline, we often focus and reward visual design and aesthetics over, rather than in addition to, usability and accessibility. If we want emerging digital designers to design for the public good, then access needs to be core to their process and their education. Creating a learning environment that makes access a priority both in the way the course is delivered and in the learning objectives impacts who student designers consider as audiences and how they prioritize the needs and desires of those audience members.
Students in four sections of a beginning web design course over three semesters were given a pre-course survey, designed by Teach Access, to measure student perceptions and knowledge of accessibility and disability. Accessibility was regularly discussed throughout the course and was a design requirement on all assignments. Interventions across the three semesters evolved based on results of the prior semester. At the end of the course, students were given a post-course survey, to measure shifts in perception and understanding of accessibility.
In this session, I will share the interventions introduced each semester and the philosophy behind each intervention. In addition, I’ll share the statistically significant results and discuss the successes and failures of each iteration of interventions. As educators, the way we approach access in the classroom influences future generations of designers, therefore it is important to begin to systematically study the impact of the course design decisions we make.
Dori Griffin, Assistant Professor, University of Florida (Editor)
The history of graphic design as expressed in survey texts is well-known for being overpopulated by white Euro-American men. I believe that escaping this disciplinary echo chamber requires active, intentional effort from scholar-practitioners within the discipline. My own position as a design scholar and educator is one I’m determined to operationalize for inclusion. Therefore I was excited when Mike Zender, editor of Visible Language, invited me to guest-edit a special issue devoted to the history of visual communication design. As the longest-running peer reviewed journal of visual communication design research in the United States, Visible Language has played a significant role in both constructing and deconstructing a canonical notion of graphic design history, a subject I examined in the journal’s fiftieth anniversary issue (Griffin 2016). In cultivating submissions for the history issue, I was determined to facilitate as global and diverse a range as possible. It was vital for the issue to contribute to the ongoing work of building a more inclusive history of graphic design. Part of this work relies on an active critique of the power structures which have led to a canonical history based on exclusions around race/ethnicity, gender/sexuality, class, professional identity, and geography. And part of the work requires intentionally and explicitly inviting as-yet unheard voices to contribute to the disciplinary dialogue. Though the term “decolonization” is often used to describe such efforts, I’m cautious about its application. In the words of Tuck and Yang (2012), “Decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life; it is not a metaphor for other things we want to do to improve our societies and schools.” Instead, I’d describe my editorial goal as recuperative, opening up the dialogic spaces of design-historical discourse to include individuals, ideas, and practices too long excluded from that narrative.
It’s a truism that graphic design history is predicated on a shallow understanding of stylistically conceptualized movements and that the discipline lacks an evidence-based, critically-informed history (e.g. Blauvelt 1994-5; Woodham 1995; Triggs 2009, 2011). Yet as I worked on this editorial project, I became convinced that this conceptualization is invalid. As I noted in the introduction to the special issue, it is not the case that histories of visual communication design, beyond style or connoisseurship or visual data, do not exist. Rather, they inhabit spaces conceptualized as external to the core of our discipline. There are scholars and practitioners already at work conducting historical research which significantly expands familiar, survey-text style notions of graphic design history. Their work may be published in adjacent fields in the humanities and social sciences, rendering it less familiar to design educators. Or historical research might undergird a contemporary studio design practice rather than a scholarly publishing practice, and thus it escapes representation in the formal literature of design history. It is vital to make room for these voices within our field. As I shaped the history-themed issue of Visible Language, I actively cultivated participation from both kinds of researchers. Including their voices within graphic design’s established communities of dialogue greatly enriches the conversations which can take place in these spaces.
The four authors whose articles were selected for publication through the journal’s double-blind peer review process expand the narrative of graphic design history through specific case studies. Each illustrates the complexity of our discipline’s historical narratives. Collectively, the authors’ research speaks to the intersections between canonized Euro-American design conventions and the diverse ways design practice occurs and is understood in a wide range of local and global contexts. The authors’ contributions to the dialogic disciplinary narratives of graphic design history are the most important outcome of this project. In “The Implications of Media,” Islamic art historian Hala Auji undertakes a close contextual and material reading of the Nafir Suriya, a series of Arabic-language broadsides originally printed in Beirut in 1860 and re-issued in 1990. In “Ismar David’s Quest for Original Hebrew Typographic Signs,” practicing designer Shani Avni contextualizes David’s design process for the David Hebrew type family (1954), documenting David’s negotiation of the tension between tradition and innovation through a research-based design process. In “Mana Mātātuhi,” practicing designer Johnson Witehira documents Māori visual culture’s incorporation of Latin-alphabet lettering and typography into culturally specific ways of seeing, knowing, and expressing. In “Lower Case in the Flatlands,” design historian Trond Klevgaard explores the adaptation and application of Avant Garde Modernist strategies in locations traditionally defined as “peripheral.” The abstracts for all four articles are included in the “evidence of outcome” section.
Serving as guest editor for this special issue of Visible Language led to an invitation to join the editorial team as the associate editor for statements of practice at Design & Culture, the journal of the Design Studies Forum. The July 2019 issue is the journal’s first issue under the direction of its new editors in chief, who describe their “conscious formation of an editorial and advisory board of accomplished scholars who work beyond the silos of their disciplines and who hail from regions not always represented in design’s dominant canons and conversations.” They note that they “are also attentive to the politics of citations and are committed to broadening the scholarly dialog to include voices too frequently dismissed or engaged only at the margins” (Adams, Keshavarz and Traganou 2019, 154). Within this conceptual framework, the issue’s statement of practice is by Nadine Chahine, whose insightful essay discusses her work as a designer of Arabic typefaces and the complex role typography plays in a diverse range of Arabic cultural and political expressions. I’m honored to contribute to this ongoing work of diversification, in however small a way. It’s thrilling to collaborate with practitioners and scholars who prioritize a global, participatory, and inclusive notion of design history and praxis. Editorial work is not glamorous. But approaching it with a passion for cultivating diversity and inclusion holds the power to shape future histories of graphic design into narratives more representative of all peoples and practices within the domain of design. [989 words]
Adams, B., M. Keshavarz and J. Traganou. 2019. “Editorial.” Design and Culture 11:2, 153-6.
Blauvelt, A. 1994-5. “New Perspectives: Critical Histories of Graphic Design.” Visible Language volumes 28.3, 28.4, 29.1.
Griffin, D. 2015. “The Role of Visible Language in Building and Critiquing a Canon of Graphic Design History.” Visible Language 50:3, 6-27.
Tuck, E., and K. Yang. 2012. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1:1, 1-¬40.
Woodham, J. 1995. “Resisting Colonization: Design History Has Its Own Identity.” Design Issues 11 (1): 22–37. https://doi.org/10.2307/1511613.
Dori Griffin is an assistant professor of graphic design in the University of Florida’s School of Art + Art History. Her research centers around two interrelated areas of inquiry. Her historical research expands the narrative of graphic design as it has been practiced and consumed in the past, with particular focus on how popular visual artifacts and print media shape national and international dialogues about culture, politics, and identity. Her pedagogical research explores how to develop globalized curriculum and diverse, learner-centered practices for design history pedagogy, particularly in the context of studio education. She is a frequent contributor to the peer-reviewed scholarly dialogues of the discipline, with publications in Dialectic, Visible Language, Design & Culture, the Journal of Communication Design, and the Journal of Design History, among others. Currently, she serves as the associate editor for statements of practice at Design & Culture.