Monday, January 16, 2012

Understanding Design is as Important for the Customer as the Designer

Most students will not become professional designers but they need to know something about design simply to be wise consumers and informed citizens. Media Literacy is the name of the field of study that looks at how images and ideas are presented in the media and how we react to them. Design is the field of study in which people learn to use visual communication to create and communicate ideas.

People look at advertisements showing super-models who have been expertly made-up and then Photoshopped and feel inferior and inadequate. Our sense of self-esteem is undermined by our unfair comparisons to these "ideal" examples. People can exaggerate, boast, lie, and deceive with images just as they do with words and numbers.

Click on the heading above to read an article by a photographer who calls himself Darlo D. who compared the images of fast food in advertising with the actual food you get in real life (left and right). There are some regulations to protect consumers from false advertising but the best protection is to be educated about the role of images in our lives and their power over the way we think and behave.

We are quick to blame media designers for being unethical but we must look at our own attitudes that allow them to influence us. Many people deny that they are fooled by media portrayals but we are still accustomed to think that someone driving a big car is more powerful and successful than someone in a smaller car. A recent study showed that a person holding a large soft-drink was perceived as more powerful than someone holding a smaller soft drink. That's our problem not the media designer.

Media designers provide the stories we like to hear. If we want to see changes in the future we need to change the stories that we carry in our heads.

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