First Things First

Adriana and Paul gave us a lecture inspired by Ken Garland’s manifesto ‘First Things First’  which questions the role of a graphic designer in this era of consumerism, advertising and technology.

It began referring to the industrial revolution. New machinery brought the promise of mass produce, more jobs for the lower class and easier transportation on a global scale. It also threatened the craftsmanship of a designer and artist. Design becoming a use for advertising, prioritising time efficiency and profit to meaning and skill. Bauhaus and the Arts and Crafts movements believed in the quality of work. The Arts and Crafts movements took inspiration from nature and the past, their work was decorative, believing in skill and craftsmanship is true design. The Bauhaus saw design as a way to create a better future.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 05.29.58.png (figure 1: Uncle Sam Wants You by James Montgomery Flagg, 1917)

The infamous Uncle Sam Wants You poster (see figure1) was one of the examples of government propaganda in the First Things First lecture. This poster creates mass communication that appeals to every individual with its use of ‘you’ and is highly effective. In contrast, The Face of Facism by John Heartfield (see figure2) has a caption that reads: ‘In the next 15 years, I will change the face of Italy so that no-one will recognise it.’ Though this could be seen as a positive message, with the visual imagery of the skull appearing across his face, it has a negative and much more sinister meaning. Both these posters have a political intent but in very different ways. The text used in the Uncle Sam Wants You poster gives the viewer a sense of purpose and a feeling of being needed to fight for their country, it’s use of bold and bright colours gives it a sense of nostalgia and a false reflection of war. However, The Face of Facism peals away the deceitfulness of propaganda through the photomontage of Mussolini’s face and its play on the meaning of the text.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 05.34.06.png (figure 2: The Face of Fascism, John Heartfield 1928)

Through the work of Barbara Kruger, Albert Speer and Paul Rand, in groups we analysed the association of image and text can offer a political voice or have a greater impact on society. Known as the era of technology, Ken Garlands manifesto is more relevant than ever and in conclusion, really corresponded with what I would like my own work to represent.


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