YOUR NEUTRAL APOSTROPHES SICKEN ME

Chip Kidd interviews Milton Glaser (links added):

Glaser
[…] [A]s a designer what you can do is –since your role is to communicate ideas to the larger culture – you can use that role to not communicate those ideas you basically don’t feel are healthy for people. I did that Road to Hell thing. Did you ever see that in the AIGA Journal?
Kidd
Yes, though I’m a bit fuzzy on it.
– It’s just a series of questions about what you’re willing to do, starting with things that are very benign, like making a package look larger on a shelf. And then ending with contributing to a person’s death if they use the product that you advertise, and everything sort of in between. Because that is really the issue – what are you willing to do as part of your life as a designer when you are an intermediary between an audience and a client? Is your job simply to respond to everything the client wants, or do you say, “I have a personal responsibility, my sense as a citizen, to make some judgments about the implications of what I’m saying to people.”
– Do you mean in terms of, say, taking on a cigarette company as a client?
– Yes, sure. But it’s more complicated than just cigarettes – that’s always used as a kind of clear demonstration, because killing people is not something you want to be involved in. But there are all kinds of other more complex ethical decisions that are intrinsically difficult to figure out, the nature of ethics being that there is no clarity on every issue – you have to make an essential decision about where you want to be in the world.
– My favorite contradiction with that is: Yes, but I just love Raymond Lowey’s Lucky Strike package, and I wouldn’t want to be without it.
– Are you a smoker?
– No.
– That’s why.
– [Laughter] Countless times I’ve tried to start, and it just never took. But just as decorative objects, cigarette packages can be so beautiful. At least those of a certain era.
– Well, that’s why you discover in the world of advertising for instance, and to some degree in graphics, the focus is always on aesthetics, not on meaning, right?
– Mmm-hmm.
– So you get an award for doing a beautiful package, but without any discussion of the consequences of using the product, because that was not something you’re supposed to consider. After all, design is concerned with beauty, not with what happens when somebody uses the product they advertise. I think it’s a very individual issue, and people who are overly self-righteous who use this as a device to beat up on others are not very admirable. But I do think it’s an issue of your own sense of how you want to be in the world.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.10.10 13:09. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
https://blog.fawny.org/2005/10/10/chipmilt/

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