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  • Ashley Goodine

The Ethics of Design

Exploring the moral conflicts that come with a career in design



While I begin to think about life as a graphic designer and what a career in design looks like, I already find myself being attracted to certain projects. Something that I've found to be really interesting is brand identity. I think it would be rewarding to be a part of the creation of a brand's aesthetic and curate a signature look for them. However, as intriguing as this idea is, I find myself very conflicted about working on these types of projects.


The modern world is filled with an infinite number of brands competing to receive consumer attention. Graphic designers aid in setting brands apart from the crowd of competitors. The demand for designers to work on brand identity seems to be growing every day. Designers help in the process of making consumers feel they need the products a brand is selling. This inevitably fuels mass consumption, since people will always be attracted to the latest marketing ploy.


As much as I love design and how it brings together the worlds of business and art, I get a little uneasy thinking about working for some of these brands. I wouldn't feel comfortable using my design skills to help promote a company whose morals don't align with my own. For example, I would never want to work for a brand that is known to be ethically irresponsible: polluting, mistreating and underpaying workers, etc.


Even though I know designers have some control over what projects they want to work on, it becomes extremely limiting to refuse jobs based on ethics. I realize the odds of finding brands that completely align with my own morals are going to be quite slim. I definitely want to keep this in mind as I start my career and I hope that I can choose to work with local companies and brands that prioritize social responsibility. Overall, I'm eager to learn how my values fit into the design world and I'm optimistic that ethics and design can coexist.

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