Reading Response 6
Celebrating the African-American Practitioners Absent From Way Too Many Classroom Lectures by Madeleine Morley, Eye on Design, 2018 and Typography as a Radical Act in an Industry Ever-dominated by White Men by Silas Munro, Eye on Design, 2019, Design Gets More Diverse by Alice Rawsthorn, NYTimes, 2011.
- How do we change the commercial design field to include a diversity of voices and visions?
- What will the commercial design field and the study of design history look like in 20 years?
The commercial design field, as told by countless historians and textbooks, has supposedly been dominated by mostly white men who designed. This brings to question whether this was the reality and how women and people of color may have been disregarded in their lifetimes as designers in the past. The commercial design field has been ever-changing throughout history to grow sequentially larger in a number of voices and ideas that are communicated across mediums. Despite this, there are still a number of opportunities for the commercial design field to grow inclusivity.
As suggested by Alice Rawsthorn’s New York Times article “Design Gets More Diverse”, there are numerous opinions on whether designers of color have faced discrimination in their line of work and their path towards it. Gail Anderson, a female graphic designer, states that she believes that creative industries don’t focus on race as much as people assume, and rather that it is based on talent and one’s ability to communicate effectively. This opinion does seem backhanded in the sense that even if those already in the industry consider this, people are indeed judged on their basis of mannerisms and communications. For people who may know English as a second language, or were not fortunate enough to have the opportunities to fluently understand business language and creative communications, this puts them at a fault even if they are talented artists. Although these prevalent issues exist, it is important for artists of color to delve into the creative industries in order to set a standard and point of inspiration for aspiring students from all walks of life, who may be intimidated by the white male-dominated industries. As the markets expand, more and more designers are bringing diversity to the world. “Design increasingly reflects the cultural diversity both of its established Western markets and expanding ones in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where a new generation of designers is emerging. Those designers are defining their own approaches, which are influencing their peers elsewhere…”
With the ever-increasing numbers of emerging designers that come from all walks of life that differ, there are high hopes for the commercial design field and study of design history to be much more inclusive in 20 years. In Madeleine Morley’s “Typography as a Radical Act in an Industry Ever-dominated by White Men”, the emergence of typographic designs, fonts, and type by minority voices paves a pathway towards conversations about culture and representation within the industry that had limited access for so many years. The typography of the future will no longer just be based on the generations of white-male created type, but instead inspired and reflected by designers of color who are currently taking the leap forward to immerse into the intimidating field. Tré Seals, founder of Vocal Type, believes that there is optimism to be found in the “potential of treating typography as a starting point for deeper conversations about culture and representation.. ‘If consumers understood design half as much as they understand technology, they’d be able to make better conscious and possibly world-changing decisions'”. Although 20 years from now seems so soon, there is faith that designers of the time will continue to pave the way for diversity and inclusion across the world.