Graphic design: Should people with strong ethical concerns stay away?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by zarusoba, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. macrumors 6502

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    #1
    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?
     
  2. macrumors P6

    Peace

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    #2
    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.
     
  3. macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #3
    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... :)
     
  4. macrumors 65816

    design-is

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    #4
    I have to say that sounds like a dream position to be in... (no sarcasm included)
     
  5. macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #5
    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.
     
  6. macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #6
    He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire... the 'alternative capital' of the North... :)
     
  7. macrumors G3

    NT1440

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    #7
    id personally say that it would be hard for anyone with strong ethics to work in ANY field related to big business:p
     
  8. macrumors member

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    #8
    well.. if you would go work for apple, you it would be very ethical!
     
  9. macrumors 6502

    jerryrock

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    #9
    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.
     
  10. Guest

    shecky

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    #10
    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.
     
  11. macrumors 6502

    jerryrock

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    #11
    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.
     
  12. macrumors 65816

    ChicoWeb

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    #12
    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.
     
  13. macrumors 6502

    jerryrock

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    #13
  14. macrumors 68000

    kockgunner

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    #14
    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.
     
  15. thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Thanks for the posts, everyone.

    I guess it was unfair of me to say graphic design is "mostly advertising". A prejudice on my part.
     
  16. macrumors 6502

    jerryrock

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    #16
    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.
     
  17. macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Being a graphic designer for over 35 years.....

    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!
     
  18. macrumors 65816

    ChicoWeb

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    #18
  19. macrumors 601

    jecapaga

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    #19
    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.
     
  20. macrumors newbie

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    Jan 14, 2008
    #20
    Creative Lynx

    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.
     
  21. macrumors 65816

    AlexisV

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    #21
    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 ;)
     
  22. macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    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.
     
  23. 7on
    macrumors 601

    7on

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    #23
    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).
     
  24. macrumors 6502

    jerryrock

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    #24
    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.
     
  25. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    #25
    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.
     

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