Generally when designers try to argue something, the debate ends up very far away from where it started, and I think it’s interesting that the sort of points being raised around fifty years ago are still considered topical by Michael Bierut and his peers. It was obviously during a time in which everyone was finishing up recovering from the war effort, and this caused a massive shift in what was desired from visual communicators, which is still relevant today, even so I can’t say I agree with some of the views that Bierut has raised. However I believe this is a good piece to start off the unit.
I can understand the personal frustration regarding Bierut’s opinion, and the values he lives by are noble; saying no to the money-laden path in favour of targets like improving safety through raising road awareness, everyone can agree that designers are able to make a significant difference to the disadvantaged/vulnerable and it is important to have people who dedicate their time to it.
But while one who is well respected within the industry can afford to do that, they cannot attempt to take away a large portion of paid work from the industry without accepting that this would be harmful to aspiring designers. Bierut is arguing for quality of work not quantity and to create the belief that the practice of visual communication should be a purely ethical one, without concerning itself with basic ‘commercial’ endeavours. That is for each individual to consider. They apply themselves the way they see fit, whether objectively some people believe that is for better or worse. In saying that I think its fair that he hasn’t been too dogmatic with his views, and acknowledged that “effective marketing is effective communication”.
Eye Magazine. (1999). First things first manifesto 2000.
Philizot. V. (2007). Graphic design and metamorphoses: A few footnotes to ten footnotes to a manifesto, Graphisme en France.