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zarusoba
Sep 17, 2008, 03:32 AM
My background is mainly in multimedia and animation, but I'm interested in going to into graphic design.

My impression is that most graphic design work is in advertising. This is a worry for me as I have strong ethical concerns. That is, there are many companies and products that I wouldn't feel comfortable promoting because they have poor ethical score cards. (Environment, human and animal rights etc.)

Should I just stay out of the industry, or is it realistic to seek out clients who are in alignment with my values?



Peace
Sep 17, 2008, 03:40 AM
A friend of mine is in the advertising industry. While it is very hard to find a company that even has ethics ( you can tell by seeing print ads and commercials ) it isn't impossible. Keep looking around until you find a place that fits. They are out there. Just hard to find.

Doylem
Sep 17, 2008, 05:15 AM
A designer friend of mine is very careful about who he works for ("Our strict code of business ethics successfully excludes us from all the most lucrative areas of work": his words, not mine...).

He's the 'go-to' guy for local charities, alternative technology companies and other concerns that are 'on the side of the angels'...

He lives in a small house, drives an old car and understands that this is the consequence of his ethical stance. Not rich, then, but pretty content... :)

design-is
Sep 17, 2008, 06:12 AM
A designer friend of mine is very careful about who he works for ("Our strict code of business ethics successfully excludes us from all the most lucrative areas of work": his words, not mine...).

He's the 'go-to' guy for local charities, alternative technology companies and other concerns that are 'on the side of the angels'...

He lives in a small house, drives an old car and understands that this is the consequence of his ethical stance. Not rich, then, but pretty content... :)

I have to say that sounds like a dream position to be in... (no sarcasm included)

OutThere
Sep 17, 2008, 06:25 AM
My impression is that most graphic design work is in advertising. This is a worry for me as I have strong ethical concerns. That is, there are many companies and products that I wouldn't feel comfortable promoting because they have poor ethical score cards. (Environment, human and animal rights etc.)

Should I just stay out of the industry, or is it realistic to seek out clients who are in alignment with my values?

Your impression is generally untrue. There is good money to be made in advertising, however there is plenty of graphic design to be done that's not in advertising. Aside from that, even in advertising there are, believe it or not, thousands of companies that are ethically sound. If you're not with a major advertising company you'll most likely never have to work on a campaign for Exxon or Walmart (for example), anyway.

An analogy: there are many ambulance chasing, morally hollow lawyers...is that really a reason not to study law? There are plenty of ethically solid jobs for lawyers, just as there are for graphic designers, in advertising or not.

Doylem
Sep 17, 2008, 06:26 AM
I have to say that sounds like a dream position to be in... (no sarcasm included)

He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire... the 'alternative capital' of the North... :)

NT1440
Sep 17, 2008, 06:26 AM
id personally say that it would be hard for anyone with strong ethics to work in ANY field related to big business:p

rupie94
Sep 17, 2008, 10:25 AM
well.. if you would go work for apple, you it would be very ethical!

jerryrock
Sep 17, 2008, 11:05 AM
With graphic design, you are providing a product for a client. It does not mean you agree with the clients politics. You have to learn to separate the two.

shecky
Sep 17, 2008, 11:11 AM
My impression is that most graphic design work is in advertising.

no. some graphic design is in advertising (and personally, its the stuff i tend to find the least interesting). there are a ton of things you can do in GD; packaging, book design, type design, identity, branding, collateral, environmental, titles, interface, poster, immersion, motion, etc.... tons of stuff.

as far as ethics go, if you are in a position to choose who you do business with it is no problem. i own a studio and we choose not to do business with any religious organizations/companies, any hate-based organizations (white power, etc..), any weapon manufacturers, any political parties, and a few other kinds of businesses and organizations.

As far as specific corporate morality goes, we look at it on a case-by-case basis. I find that how badly run many large organizations are to be much more of a deterrent to a working relationship with them than just their morals. i can live with differing ethics to mine, i cannot live with incompetence.

jerryrock
Sep 17, 2008, 01:13 PM
You have to be careful about picking and choosing who you will or will not do business with.

If you run a business in the United States that is open to the general public, you can not discriminate an the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age.

A number of states also have anti discrimination laws that add sexual orientation to the list.

ChicoWeb
Sep 17, 2008, 02:03 PM
You can always refuse business, if you're a business owner. If you're an employee, well, you may have to suck it up, or not choose this line of work. Someone said it best in a previous thread, but this business is a business, it's not based on artistic self expression. I wish I remember who said it because it was brilliant.

jerryrock
Sep 17, 2008, 02:08 PM
You can always refuse business, if you're a business owner.

This statement is incorrect. Here is a recent example:

http://george.loper.org/~george/trends/2008/Apr/909.html

http://evolveny.wordpress.com/2008/03/31/wedding-photographer-fined-6k-for-refusing-gay-couple/

http://www.legalzoom.com/legal-articles/article13721.html

kockgunner
Sep 17, 2008, 04:43 PM
This statement is incorrect. Here is a recent example:

http://george.loper.org/~george/trends/2008/Apr/909.html

http://evolveny.wordpress.com/2008/03/31/wedding-photographer-fined-6k-for-refusing-gay-couple/

http://www.legalzoom.com/legal-articles/article13721.html

Interesting articles. It doesn't sound pleasant to start my own business if activists can force me to take part in things against my beliefs. It was the owner's decision and hard work to start the business. If someone doesn't like their policies, then they should take their business elsewhere. If the owner chooses to limit their target market, the power to them. Our country was built upon Christian principles. We should respect that and not assimilate everyone into a random new age religion in the name of political correctness.

to the OP: i'm going into graphic design too and also want to know the same thing. i guess you just have to choose what type of graphic design to do. maybe product packaging or industrial design touches on less sensitive things than other types.

zarusoba
Sep 17, 2008, 06:13 PM
Thanks for the posts, everyone.

I guess it was unfair of me to say graphic design is "mostly advertising". A prejudice on my part.

jerryrock
Sep 17, 2008, 06:47 PM
Interesting articles. It doesn't sound pleasant to start my own business if activists can force me to take part in things against my beliefs. It was the owner's decision and hard work to start the business. If someone doesn't like their policies, then they should take their business elsewhere. If the owner chooses to limit their target market, the power to them. Our country was built upon Christian principles. We should respect that and not assimilate everyone into a random new age religion in the name of political correctness.

There is nothing "activist" about the government enforcing a policy of non-discrimination.

This county (US) was built on a foundation of religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

You should respect the rights of everyone, not a select few who you deem worthy.

DesignerOnMac
Sep 17, 2008, 08:39 PM
My background is mainly in multimedia and animation, but I'm interested in going to into graphic design.

My impression is that most graphic design work is in advertising. This is a worry for me as I have strong ethical concerns. That is, there are many companies and products that I wouldn't feel comfortable promoting because they have poor ethical score cards. (Environment, human and animal rights etc.)

Should I just stay out of the industry, or is it realistic to seek out clients who are in alignment with my values?

If your intending to be a freelance artist, it will be up to you to show advertising agencies, design studios, etc,:

1. Your portfolio
2. Your resume

In the USA, it is easy to find out what clients a particular agency has etc.

If your looking for design work, target the agencies or studios you want work from. Also develop your own potential client list. Then go for it!

ChicoWeb
Sep 17, 2008, 09:26 PM
This statement is incorrect. Here is a recent example:

http://george.loper.org/~george/trends/2008/Apr/909.html

http://evolveny.wordpress.com/2008/03/31/wedding-photographer-fined-6k-for-refusing-gay-couple/

http://www.legalzoom.com/legal-articles/article13721.html

Haven't you ever seen the signs, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" ?

jecapaga
Sep 17, 2008, 10:01 PM
My background is mainly in multimedia and animation, but I'm interested in going to into graphic design.

My impression is that most graphic design work is in advertising. This is a worry for me as I have strong ethical concerns. That is, there are many companies and products that I wouldn't feel comfortable promoting because they have poor ethical score cards. (Environment, human and animal rights etc.)

Should I just stay out of the industry, or is it realistic to seek out clients who are in alignment with my values?

You may actually be able to work your ethical concerns as a business angle. Yes a lot of graphic design is within advertising. You can always decline a client but as a business owner, I'd really want to know why I was doing that and have a track record. For me personally, unless it was really lame **** that the company was involved in, I'd take the work and try and do whatever I could graphically/communications to put the proper message out.

mjkov
Sep 18, 2008, 03:24 AM
I attend University and throughout my second year we had a guest lecturer every Tuesday. They'd range from those on placement in design companies to Creative Directors as a way of getting the full spectrum of opinion about the design world.
Anyway, one of those guests was the founder of an advertising agency called Creative Lynx. His whole company was based around ethical advertising. For example, they'd not take on a project for non ethical products such as cigarettes or alcohol and his company was very successful!

They got all the ethical clients they could ask for and refused all those pitches they didn't want and it didn't seem to affect their business by any means.

The predominant idea is that all advertising agencies would sell their souls for a profit but, luckily, it's just not true.

AlexisV
Sep 18, 2008, 05:44 AM
Nice one. I've heard of Creative Lynx.

To be honest, there's little work out there that would probably clash with anyone's ethics. Would alcohol be described as non-ethical? I'm not sure it would.

I'm vegetarian but did a menu the other day packed full of meat. It would be more unethical have not done it since we need to do the work for the good of the people in our company. Plus, I'm not really bothered ;)

jampat
Sep 18, 2008, 08:38 AM
You can always pick your clients, you just have to be creative about it. If someone wants you to do a job and you don't want to do it, quote them a ridiculously high price. You most likely won't get the job and they won't come back to you. You haven't refused anything, they made the decision to use someone else.

7on
Sep 18, 2008, 10:12 AM
My boss has countless times told me to steal images from Google :rolleyes:

I usually end up illustrating what I need or try to make something in our 'limited' stock photo library work (about 100 images).

jerryrock
Sep 18, 2008, 10:16 AM
Haven't you ever seen the signs, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" ?

Putting up a sign has no effect on federal regulation or local laws.

Refusing service is not a "right".

Everyone has the right to equal service.

jeremytehjerk
Sep 18, 2008, 04:50 PM
Putting up a sign has no effect on federal regulation or local laws.

Refusing service is not a "right".

Everyone has the right to equal service.

generally correct in that putting up the sign has no effect.

the issue with refusing service is that businesses can refuse service where that is the extent of what is involved. a person walks in wanting product a and owner sais he is refusing service would be okay. but in the real world there is no "person wanting product a" and as such businesses have to be careful that any refusal of service can easily be traced to a reasonable issue, which can vary from industry to industry. I'm not positive on any specific legal precedents for the design industry but as a creative outlet im pretty sure you could refuse to take jobs from potential customers soley based on artist dissinterest in the project.

AlexisV
Sep 19, 2008, 06:38 AM
Sign or no sign, you can refuse service to anyone.

But I believe you cannot refuse service on certain discriminatory grounds. There is no right to 'equal service', only a right not to be discriminated against.

There's a bank over here that has a strong ethical policy and frequently advertise how many contracts and millions of pounds they've lost out on due to refusing to deal with certain organisations e.g. weapons manufacturers.

kockgunner
Sep 20, 2008, 02:03 AM
There is nothing "activist" about the government enforcing a policy of non-discrimination.

This county (US) was built on a foundation of religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

You should respect the rights of everyone, not a select few who you deem worthy.

I meant the people (in this case, the people getting married) are the 'activists'. By enforcing a policy of 'non-discrimination', you are discriminating against those who want religious freedom.

stainlessliquid
Sep 20, 2008, 02:15 PM
First of all a vast majority of graphic designers will never do work for a major corporation. Most will only do work for local businesses, especially freelancers. The worst local things you might run into is interest groups like Focus on the Family and other religious stuff based in your area, also government stuff but only local government stuff like something for the police station or city hall.

jerryrock
Sep 20, 2008, 02:19 PM
I meant the people (in this case, the people getting married) are the 'activists'. By enforcing a policy of 'non-discrimination', you are discriminating against those who want religious freedom.

A gay couple are activists because they want to get married? It is legal for same sex couples to marry in Canada. In the United States it is legal in Massachusetts and California so far, while civic union are legal in many others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage

Did you miss the part about separation of church and state?

Marriage is not a religious ceremony, it is a civic ceremony where a couple enter into a legally binding agreement.

The Provence of Quebec got it right with their charter:

The Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms which states (in part):

Section 10
"Every person has a right to full and equal recognition and exercise of his human rights and freedoms, without distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age except as provided by law, religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, a handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap. Discrimination exists where such a distinction, exclusion or preference has the effect of nullifying or impairing such right."

Section 11
"No one may distribute, publish or publicly exhibit a notice, symbol or sign involving discrimination, or authorize anyone to do so."

Section 12
"No one may, through discrimination, refuse to make a juridical act concerning goods or services ordinarily offered to the public."

Section 13
"No one may in a juridical act stipulate a clause involving discrimination."

The entire charter: http://www.cdpdj.qc.ca/en/commun/docs/charter.pdf

All I am attempting to do is make people aware of the existence of these rights which do vary by country and state.

Human rights laws do not exist to give special privileges to protected classes. They are there to ensure that the rights of ALL humans are protected equally.

Jerry

Trajectory
Sep 20, 2008, 02:22 PM
Should I just stay out of the industry, or is it realistic to seek out clients who are in alignment with my values?

If you love doing graphic design, find a way to work with the clients you want. Every design shop usually specializes in a particular area of business. Some work with pharmaceutical companies, some work with car manufacturers, etc.

For the clients you don't want to work with, either charge them a lot more money or simply decline politely. Easy!

RainForRent
Sep 20, 2008, 03:33 PM
With graphic design, you are providing a product for a client. It does not mean you agree with the clients politics. You have to learn to separate the two.

This is the most useful piece of advice posted.
Graphic design is such a blanket term, and most people don't understand it.

stainlessliquid
Sep 20, 2008, 04:29 PM
You should never throw away your ethics just for a job. The guilt of knowing that you made something that influences people to hate gays or vote for someone you think is evil is not worth a brief amount of work. There will always be other jobs which dont make you feel guilty or have negative effects on other people.

AustinZ
Sep 20, 2008, 08:26 PM
There's always the possibility you find out you disagree with your client only after the job has been done and the product/service delivered. Then you've really got a quandary in front of you.

I do agree that most people want to (and should) set down general moral guidelines in terms of what they can or can't do in terms of professional services or other contractual obligations. In many cases, though, this is taken to a ridiculous level. As an (admittedly extreme) example, I once read some free software's legal text that expressly forbade missionaries and anyone living in Israel, among others, from using the product. Not only were the terms laughably unenforceable, they also failed to engender sympathy for the guy's political views (more likely, 'what a kook').

pinktank
Sep 20, 2008, 09:36 PM
I have to say it's hard for you to be. period.
If you are that concerned about your ethics, you should probably look at every single product you buy and consume and it is borderline impossible to stay away, maybe you could pull a sly one and make their advertisements less effective. OR you could promote an eco campaign and shape them!:eek::eek::eek:;););):p:p:p

Mac_Max
Sep 21, 2008, 12:11 AM
This statement is incorrect. Here is a recent example:

http://george.loper.org/~george/trends/2008/Apr/909.html

http://evolveny.wordpress.com/2008/03/31/wedding-photographer-fined-6k-for-refusing-gay-couple/

http://www.legalzoom.com/legal-articles/article13721.html

These are very specific cases where the people who were sued probably said the wrong thing (the first link is exactly that). If you don't want to do business with someone and you say, "I don't want to do business with you because you're x and y" you're asking for trouble. If the photographer never returned their call (if he was responding to a voice mail) or said he was booked for the day they wanted, they probably wouldn't have said anything and there's nothing they can do to prove that you avoided their call because they were gay. They could have tried to trap him by calling him up again and saying they were a straight couple, but most people wouldn't bother doing that unprovoked anyways.

You can also simply say no for any reason that isn't included in that list so long as you can prove it. At work there are a few items we won't sell to the general public for various reasons (body armor for example). Part of it is because it's a perk for Law Enforcement, part of it is because it's very difficult to sell those items to the general public, and in many cases there are liabilities involved that we choose not to deal with (LEO tend to be less litigious since they understand bullet proof vests are not really bullet proof). Is it illegal to not sell a bullet proof vest to someone because they're gay? Yup. If we say we can't sell the vest to someone who is gay and not an LEO because we don't have the proper insurance/sizing equipment/sell only to Law Enforcement ,can we still get sued if the person feels it's really because they're gay? Yeah, but unless we said something we shouldn't have we're going to be a-ok because we have a history of only selling body armor to LEOs.

Thankfully it's not a one way street because there are some people you don't want us to sell body armor to anyways no matter what their creed or orientation.

In fact, if we know someone has the intention to do something malicious (i.e. states he's going to kill school children) we can get in trouble for it.

----

That said, on the side I happen to do some graphics work and most of my work has been layout for product packaging. If you really want a feel for the "ethics" of certain elements of design, browse magazines, web sites, product packages, displays, and basically anything else you can look at that was created professionally on the computer and you'll find that a lot of it is ethics agnostic. A website layout is hardly unethical unless you're talking about a site designed around hate speech or something around those lines. Obviously those are rare. The box for a router wouldn't spark an ethics debate in even the most anal of scrutinizers :D. Most design jobs are relatively boring. A toothpaste packaging design isn't something to write home about but it can make you a lot of money.

The only ethical issues with common jobs I can think of would revolve around licensing of images. The simple answer to that is build a clip art library and find lots of sites that offer single/multi/unlimited use clipart for reasonable prices and pass the cost to your clients. Reasonably priced unlimited use clip art can be used for multiple jobs and you can still bill the person for the artwork subsequently... or not if thats how far you're going to push the ethics thing.

RedTomato
Sep 21, 2008, 07:24 AM
This statement is incorrect. Here is a recent example:

http://www.legalzoom.com/legal-articles/article13721.html

OK I read your other links, then I read this in the last link (above):

In one more complicated case, a court held that a cemetery could exclude "punk rockers" from a private funeral service. A mother requested that the funeral service for her 17-year old daughter be private and that admission to the service be limited to family and invited guests only. The cemetery failed to exclude punk rockers from the service. The punk rockers arrived in unconventional dress, wearing makeup and sporting various hair colors. One was wearing a dress decorated with live rats. Others wore leather and chains, while others were twirling baton-like weapons, drinking and using cocaine. The punk rockers made rude comments to family members and were generally disruptive of the service.

Ironically, the funeral business had attempted to rely on the Unruh Civil Rights Act, claiming that if they had denied access to the punk rockers, they would have been in violation of the Act.

That's just stupid. A dress decorated with *live* rats. Yeah right. And using cocaine. There's no law says a business must meekly accept illegal drug use on their premises.

This seems a highly specious writeup. Wearing leather. Teh horror! Throw out everyone who's wearing leather shoes!

Col127
Sep 21, 2008, 07:39 AM
I don't think it's so bad that you need to stay out of the industry all together. There's a ton of variety of clients you can work with in graphic design and definitely not limited to advertising!

My background is mainly in multimedia and animation, but I'm interested in going to into graphic design.

My impression is that most graphic design work is in advertising. This is a worry for me as I have strong ethical concerns. That is, there are many companies and products that I wouldn't feel comfortable promoting because they have poor ethical score cards. (Environment, human and animal rights etc.)

Should I just stay out of the industry, or is it realistic to seek out clients who are in alignment with my values?

thejadedmonkey
Sep 21, 2008, 08:08 AM
The way I understand it, you can't discriminate because your client is a terrorist and wants to produce a training manual (that would be descrimination against a person), however, you can say that you don't feel comfortable doing that type of work for the person. As long as you turn down the work itself, but not the person, it should be OK.. I think, but really you would want to find a lawyer in your area.

jerryrock
Sep 21, 2008, 01:26 PM
The way I understand it, you can't discriminate because your client is a terrorist and wants to produce a training manual (that would be descrimination against a person), however, you can say that you don't feel comfortable doing that type of work for the person. As long as you turn down the work itself, but not the person, it should be OK.. I think, but really you would want to find a lawyer in your area.

One's occupation is not a human rights issue, not covered by anti-discrimination laws.

Terrorism is covered by The Department of Homeland Security.

http://www.dhs.gov/xinfoshare/reportincidents/

Phrasikleia
Sep 21, 2008, 10:37 PM
If you can go into graphic design with lofty goals, you can get yourself into a position where you are able to pick and choose your clients. You just have to decide that you want to make a cultural contribution, not a contribution to corporate coffers (or whatever coffers most trouble you). This of course means being very creative and taking some risks, but it can be done.

Aranince
Sep 21, 2008, 10:47 PM
This statement is incorrect. Here is a recent example:

http://george.loper.org/~george/trends/2008/Apr/909.html

http://evolveny.wordpress.com/2008/03/31/wedding-photographer-fined-6k-for-refusing-gay-couple/

That is why I don't like the gay marriage laws. Because your forced to embrace it. Its one thing if they made it lawful so they can get married and I don't have to have any part of it; but its another thing when they force their stuff on me.

opeter
Sep 22, 2008, 06:36 AM
My boss has countless times told me to steal images from Google :rolleyes:

I usually end up illustrating what I need or try to make something in our 'limited' stock photo library work (about 100 images).

Almost same situation here...

jerryrock
Sep 22, 2008, 08:21 AM
That is why I don't like the gay marriage laws. Because your forced to embrace it. Its one thing if they made it lawful so they can get married and I don't have to have any part of it; but its another thing when they force their stuff on me.

This country lived through people who were "forced to embrace" the abolition of slavery, giving women the right to vote and interracial marriage.

Heaven forbid that you are forced to recognize that all men are created equal.

Same Sex marriage is LEGAL in Massachusetts and California. It is recognized in CT, DC, HI, ME, NH, NJ, NY, OR, VT and WA. It is LEGAL in Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Norway, South Africa and Spain. Same Sex civil unions are recognized in Andorra, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay.

Anti-Discrimination laws are in place to ensure that every human is treated equally, not to grant a specific group special privileges.

Baron58
Sep 22, 2008, 09:51 AM
Our country was built upon Christian principles.
Not exactly. Learn a bit more about the 'founding fathers' before projecting your viewpoint on them.

kockgunner
Sep 22, 2008, 08:23 PM
That is why I don't like the gay marriage laws. Because your forced to embrace it. Its one thing if they made it lawful so they can get married and I don't have to have any part of it; but its another thing when they force their stuff on me.

exactly. maybe i don't know much about the law or i worded my posts incorrectly, but if a homosexual couple want to be married, let them get married, don't make me be forced to participate in something against my beliefs.

angelneo
Sep 23, 2008, 12:37 AM
This thread is getting out of of topic, better stick to ethics in graphic design or risk getting this thread move to wasteland or PRSI