It’s 2017, I am a designer and illustrator in a young forward-thinking agency. And still, most of the images I edit for big campaigns show white, happy, young and beautiful people. Why is that?
With the job as a designer also comes a certain responsibility. A good designer is solving problems, not just making things beautiful. Every pixel or line we draw, every image or color we choose should have a reason and serve a goal (selling a product for example). But living in a society that is highly influenced by the visual impressions that surround us every day, agencies as well as their clients have to be aware that — just as with other fields like fashion, movies, journalism, politics or publishing — design has a voice. So it is important that this voice includes diversity in race, gender, sexuality, age and religion.
Over the course of the past years this issue has gotten more attention and fortunately also led to some initiatives:
Starting in the world of emojis, the default skin tone was first either cartoon yellow or white until in 2015 a new update with different shades of skin tones was released. Today you can also send emojis in all different kinds of partnership and family constellations etc. DIVERSE THUMBS UP!
AIGA, the profissional association of arts came to the conclusion that the diversity problem in design lies in a lack of diverse role models, opportunities and public awareness and has therefore created a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. YES!
The clothing line Monki celebrated its 10th birthday with a campaign that celebrates topics that are normally not communicated like periods, body hair, cyberbullying or masturbation. Bringing those topics into the spotlight can help to beat the stigmas around them. AWESOME!
And finally I'd like to share with you the online platform Women Who Draw, which was designed to display the work of female illustrators from different ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations to celebrate diversity. YAY!
Katrin Kohl, Illustration & Visual Design