It isn’t uncommon for soon-to-be college grads to question the career path they have chosen. During the first semester of my senior year this question hit me hard. I always knew I wanted to be some kind of artist. Graphic design seemed to be one of the more secure paths an artist could take. It didn’t take me long to really fall in love with the profession. I knew right away that it was the perfect job for me. However, at that stage in my life I didn’t quite understand the full potential available to me as a graphic designer. One big question kept looming over me. “How was I going to be able to change the world?”
Most of my friends were studying to be doctors, nurses, or teachers. It was always very clear to me that every single day they would change someone’s life. They would have an impact on the world, whether small or large, every day. How was I, as a graphic artist, going to do that?
This became an important question for me, and I began to research artists that were using art to change the world. One I particularly fell in love with was Jason DeCaires Taylor (www.underwatersculpture.com), an underwater sculptor who used a particular type of concrete to produce massive and beautiful sculptures in order to create artificial reefs. His mission, to bring awareness and help to restore a dying habitat for countless marine life, was intriguing to me. I wanted to do something just as grand. I thought, “How can I do something like that for the Louisiana wetlands? How can I get the money and the supplies?” I wanted to change the world in some kind of massive way, but I didn’t know where to start.
Then, my first client asked me to design a logo for their up-and-coming new business, something every designer will have to do sooner or later. When I saw the clients’ faces the first time I showed them their new logo I realized I had just changed their lives in a big way. That moment made me realize the impact graphic design can have on a day-to-day basis. When someone sees their logo for the first time, it gives them a sense of confidence that the company they have been dreaming of and working so hard towards can actually be a reality. Seeing the look on a client’s face when you hand them a new project; when you design something better than they could have ever imagined; when you create an identity for them or their company that they didn’t even know they were missing, those moments are what make me love my job. That’s how we change the world. That’s what gives it all a purpose.
Graphic design is everywhere and impacts and influences people every day, all day long. When you go to the grocery store, what makes you choose one brand of green beans over the other? Is it because of the name brand that you recognize, a brand created by a designer? One day, I was heading home from a friends house, and I saw a sign that said, “Quality Dirt”. The sign was sloppy, poorly designed and not taken care of. After all, they were selling dirt. How nice of a sign do they really need? Then a few miles down the road, I saw another sign. This one said, “Quality Sod”. It was nice, professionally made, well lit, very clean. It occurred to me that these two companies probably sell very similar products, but if I had to buy my dirt from one of them, I’d expect the second to have the better product.
Even the most simple product or business, when branded correctly, can become something great. Graphic design is at the forefront of every great business. It’s what the customer sees first. It’s what they recognize when they want to come back. Graphic design leads campaigns, starts political movements, builds global awareness, and gets a new business started. Never again will I question how I can change the world through graphic design. Now the question is: How can you change the world without it?