Freedom to Print

I’m constantly impressed with new design ideas, and I admire and respect the craftspeople and technicians who produce graphic design, manipulating materials in ways that eventually manipulate minds. And this in itself is not a bad thing. Manipulation normally has such bad connotations, but in a practical sense, we judge successful design by its ability to effect us, to manipulate us, into comprehending and remembering the message intended. I see the historical thread of graphic design to the creation or existence of civilization itself.

I am a fanatical believer in its worth, application, and historical importance. In the history of our civilization on Earth, there have been long periods of little or no change, and yet now change is so quick that each week something major becomes obsolete. Literacy is increasing worldwide, more people have the ability to understand visual communication. The resulting impact is wider. We started in the Stone Age, then the New Stone Age, then the Bronze Age, then the Iron Age, and now we are no longer in the Industrial Age, we are in the Information Age.

Statistics show that the proportion of individuals that now work in blue collar jobs have been surpassed by those people whose jobs fall under the general category of information. Obviously this includes magazines, newspapers, publishers, governments, data processing, accountants. We are becoming a nation of clerks. It is part of the designers responsibility to keep this revolution human by creating attractive, informative and functional designs. Chicken or the Egg.

Does art reflect society or society reflect art? Graphic design needs to be proactive and make positive choices. The First Amendment is what? Freedom of speech. We can say what we wish, but how far can we be heard, and how long will our words last. What’s the Fourth Amendment? Freedom of the press. What does that mean today? Something about Dan Rather’s right to report the news, or is it Woodward and Bernstein’s project against Nixon? Certainly we have changed the concept of “the press”. What is meant by the Fourth amendment is very obvious. The press is the machine and the product it produces. At the time it could have been called the“freedom to print”. The power of the press is awesome indeed.

Benjamin Franklin, author, politician, scientist, postmaster, librarian. With all these accomplishments it might be interesting to know what Franklin asked to be placed on his tombstone – Here lies Ben Franklin, printer. So I’m thinking that the importance of visual communication is uniquely protected by a group of revolutionaries that could have never projected what it would be like. Good for them, thank you!

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