The Complete Graphic Designer
Governments around the world recognize the impor-
tance of controlling and disseminating information.
To better facilitate user comprehension, they often
regulate various documents and packaging. Offi cial
documents such as tax forms and visa applications
must be easy to use and comprehend. Nutrition labels
as well as product labels and safety guidelines must
appear on food packages. In each of these examples
of government communication, the standards require
that information be presented in a consistent man-
ner on every product so viewers do not have trouble
correctly deciphering the content or making informed
buying decisions.
The Role of Design
in Everyday Life
Bright yellow informational stickers
are placed on major appliances to
educate consumers about their en-
ergy usage. They also make it easier
to comparison-shop between brands
of merchandise.
Design: Burkey Belser, U.S. Federal
Trade Commission
The tax codes of most countries
are very complex, sometimes
requiring thousands of pages of
rules and regulations. To ensure
that citizens understand their
nancial obligation to the govern-
ment, forms are designed in a
manner that all citizens can easily
understand and use. For the Brit-
ish Tax Council, helpful tip boxes
and shaded content areas are
employed for ease of use. (After
its redesign in 2002, on-time
payments increased 80 percent,
according to the Design Council.)
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Design for Communication
Communicating nutrition information is a
governmentally regulated necessity for all food
products sold in the United States and abroad.
The nutrition label has undergone many design
revisions as the needs and dietary habits of
American citizens change.
Design: Burkey Belser
Design for Public Service
As effective communicators, graph-
ic designers have enormous power
and responsibility to use their craft
for good and noble purposes or
for causes they believe in. In times
of confl ict and revolution, design
provides the government with
propaganda, urging citizens to take
action. During World War II, posters
from the Offi ce of War Information
encouraged citizens to help the
war effort through conservation
and increased factory production.
The atrocities committed within
Nazi concentration camps were
also exposed through war-related
propaganda and design.
In addition to fulfi lling the needs
of government propaganda, design
has traditionally been essential to
promoting causes for the greater
human good. Throughout history,
designers have banded together
to develop communication pieces
that raised awareness about social
and political issues in an effort to
Information designers are very special
people who must master all the skills
and talents of a designer, combine it with
the rigor and problem solving ability of
a scientist or mathematician, and bring
the curiosity, research skills, and dog-
gedness of a scholar to their work.
—Terry Irwin
force a positive change. Because
these types of projects are often
highly conceptual and offer great
freedom, many designers fi nd self-
initiated and pro bono projects
more gratifying than traditional
paying commissions.
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The Complete Graphic Designer
In this series of posters for the United Nations,
statistics on inequality are powerfully projected
to the viewer through the simple use of type and
color. The layout of the supporting typography
on the side of each poster is visually reminiscent
of a ruler or other measuring device.
Design: Chermayeff & Geismar Studio
Design is often used not only to promote milita-
ristic causes but also social ones. These posters
educate the viewer about the monetary and hu-
man costs associated with smoking.
Design: Greteman Group
(Far right) Design informs and educates the
public. To create awareness about the effects
of music lyrics on abuse toward women, this ad
uses popular albums confi gured as parts of a
woman’s wardrobe.
Design: Archrival
(Opposite page) Work created for nonprofi t organizations or done pro bono allows designers creative
freedom that can be well worth the sacrifi ce in pay. And Partners organized an exhibit and fundraiser
for the Books for Kids organization, in which some of New York City’s most infl uential designers were
asked to create designs that communicated the idea of punctuation. After the exhibit, posters were
distributed in design publications and paper promotions.
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Design for Communication
Stefan Sagmeister Kent Hunter
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