Rendering the visual visible: social dimensions of graphic design

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We cannot separate our work from the social setting it inhabits, nor should we underestimate its impact. From inside the graphic design profession the last 50 years have heard several public calls for designers to recognise their social impact and responsibilities. Ken Garland's First Things First manifesto of 1964, revisited in 2000 and signed by 22 international visual communicators, urged designers to engage more overtly in the unprecedented and complex social, environmental and cultural issues facing us in the 21st century. Others (Buchanan, Friedman 2003, Conklin et al 2007)) believe that in the face of new challenges, we can contribute design-led approaches to problems of increasing scale and complexity. However, from outside the profession much of what we are engaged in and produce is regarded as ephemera cultural artefacts subject to what Australian cultural studies writer Meaghan Morris (1998) calls a 'history of ignoring', frequently overlooked as insignificant and disposable. The question motivating this special issue was how can graphic design become a visible part of the ongoing living narrative of culture?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalVisual, design, scholarship
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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