Every day, I receive a note from Steven Heller. Most of the time, they are tiny design history installments, where a collected artifact or a historical footnote is revisited. Sometimes, they contain the usual Heller zeal for the graphic design of yesteryear, and then, there are those posts that capture a thought in the sardonic style that really epitomizes Heller.
Well, today was one of those days. Although Heller lets the images do the talking, the post addresses an issue that is keenly discussed by today’s graphic design community. When does graphic design morph from creative elevation into simple, complacent propaganda, and what is a designer’s responsibility?
Today, some designers might question Santa’s relationship with Coca-Cola, given the iconic drink’s recent press. In truth, there are no simple answers, and like all tools, design can be subverted for unintended ends. Thirty years ago, you could have pondered that question over a cigarette, without a bit of guilt. Now, I am afraid; you’ll have to think about it over a nice cup of coffee. Just make sure that it is free trade (or balanced trade).