Uncomfortable self-reflections: Confronting the social problems that graphic designers help to perpetuate

2019-04-08T04:53:45Z (GMT) by Fontaine, Lisa

Using methods of critical inquiry, American graphic design students confront uncomfortable realities about the role that brand identity plays in promoting and reinforcing detrimental attitudes and habits of American society and culture.

This initiative invites them to use their graphic design skills tocritically examine American culture through the filter of their own personal experience in it. The students consider how brands canoften exploit the society’s insecurities and desires, selling them products, services, and ideas that they don’t need or shouldn’t accept. Mindful of the role that graphic designers play in the emergence of successful brands, the students create satirical brandidentities for reprehensible companies of their own invention. This process makes use of the Culture Jamming process, which is ‘the actof using existing mass media to comment on those very media themselves, using the original medium’s communication method.’

Recent parody projects have explored obesity, prescription drugs, gender issues, xenophobia, climate ignorance, body image, and misogyny in entertainment. This initiative provides a model foreducators looking for ways to incorporate cultural criticism into an already tightly defined curriculum.