Chapter 8Social Innovation

Doing good is not exclusive to graphic design; every profession wants to influence or bring about positive change. In recent years, the term “social innovation” has become part of designer jargon. It is not entirely specious: Designers routinely make innovations for social welfare. Like any buzzword (e.g., design thinking), its effectiveness diminishes with overuse. Still, for our purposes, terms like “social impact” and “social innovation” serve the same yet broader function than “pro bono” (which is often thought to mean “free work” but is actually derived from pro bono publico–”for the public good”–in Latin).

Social innovation can be a career path or not. It can be a means to build a portfolio or not. It should be a way to help others directly or indirectly. Graphic designers have long been seen as those who support social innovators through the expert organization of useful data or the rebranding of a not-for-profit organization. Yet graphic designers are finding ways to take an even more proactive role as “makers” and “producers” of socially valuable products. Here the term “social entrepreneur” is apt, for designers with easy access to digital tools are equipped to make significant contributions. This chapter will not provide the outlets you need to make a difference, but our interviews address the ways to find those outlets and to channel your inspiration for the public good.

Mark Randall

The Citizen Designer

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