Thursday, 20 May 2010

Sustainability in Graphic Design

Sustainability is the capacity to endure. In ecology the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. For humans it is the potential for long-term maintenance of wellbeing, which in turn depends on the wellbeing of the natural world and the responsible use of natural resources.

“Achieving sustainability will enable the Earth to continue supporting human life as we know it.”

The importance of sustainability is an ongoing issue, in which the commercial industry considers on a daily basis. The notion of sustainability specifically attaches itself to the graphic design world; this I suppose is because the graphic industry is presumed as a material-based or paper-based business. However there are many aspects of the commercial world that sustainability affects, electricity output, transport, materials, recyclable materials etc.  

Nowadays, there are many different mediums that graphic designers use to fulfil briefs and their clients needs. Advances in technology have given designers cheaper and more efficient options when producing solutions for their clients. With the ever-expanding medium of the Internet, print-based outcomes can be applied to a digital format, cutting costs and materials.

However with this expansion into the digital medium, I feel as if print will always have its place within the graphic design industry because of its already prominent basis in the world of graphic design. I find it hard to imagine the day that print design dies, because I feel it goes hand in hand with commercial business. Graphic design has the ability to communicate anything and everything but it also allows businesses to develop relationships with clients and promote business first hand. An example of this is company image, print-based accompaniments such as business cards and invoices that can carry personal aspect.

Throughout a third year project, I was lucky enough to work alongside an existing designer from a local Cardiff design studio, Eak Design. It was at this point where I really begun to understand the affect we have on the world as designers. As a company, Eak Design conducts a very environmentally friendly business; they strictly only use environmentally friendly products and have developed strong links with a UK leading environmentally friendly printers. They have a strong viewpoint that every design studio “will or is” following the same pattern. They expressed that sometimes it was difficult to introduce their environmentally friendly system to certain clients because the clients were on a budget and were put off by the idea by a slight raise in costs. They went on to explain that as graphic designers, we face communication problems everyday and this is just another. It seemed that Eak’s environmentally friendly approach gained a lot of respect from clients through their project pitches. As I have developed as a designer I feel a compelling connection with printed graphics and with this connection comes an awareness of the environment and the affect our carbon footprint has, not only in my ambition of graphics but in all areas of my life.

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